A Bendigo public dentist has opposed a proposal for a Medicare-style universal insurance for primary dental care.
A report released by the Grattan Institute proposed the scheme that would cost the Federal government an extra $5.6 billion each year to implement and mean a rise in the Medicare levy.
Bendigo Health Dental Service dentist Dr Marietta Taylor said that instead the existing public dental service should be properly funded.
The report proposed the Commonwealth take responsibility for funding primary dental care.
Less than half of Australian adults went to the dentist in the past year, the report stated.
It described eligibility as a "postcode lottery" where people's access to public dental care depends on where they live.
The result of this is widespread poor oral health, which disproportionately affects poorer people, the report said.
The average waiting time for public dental care in Victoria was 20.8 months in June 2018, according to statistics from the Australian Dental Association Victorian Branch.
Experts say this can have a detrimental effect on patients' oral health.
Dr Taylor said that providing dental care through Medicare would be funding private dental profit.
She said public dentists could provide the same care for less money, because they were paid less.
"Patients can go to the public clinic right now and get their treatment done, it's just that their public dental treatment is so poorly funded," Dr Taylor said.
"Why don't we properly fund the public dental service, which is the most cost-effective way of providing dental care to our health care card holders?"
"The infrastructure is already here, it's just really poorly funded."
Dr Taylor said there was also a risk private dentists would overcharge for treatments.
Poor oral health disproportionately affects poorer people, Dr Taylor said.
Things like poorer diets, lower education, unaffordable dental care and the obesity epidemic mean it's harder for people on lower incomes to maintain their teeth, she said.
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