Dental services for young children needed in the South West

Shadow Minister for Health Sean L’Estrange has called on Health Minister Roger Cook to address a shortage in dental health services for young children in the South West.

Mr L’Estrange said it had been bought to his attention that children aged between 2 and 5 in the South West Region were being referred to Princess Margaret Hospital for surgical treatment of extensive dental decay and oral infections instead of being treated locally.

“There are a limited number of specialist paediatric dentists in Western Australia and I am advised that only one currently works in regional WA,” Mr L’Estrange said.

“When children suffering from dental decay require treatment under general anaesthesia, a specialist paediatric dentist needs to perform the treatment and it is important these specialists have reliable and regular access to hospital facilities and general anaesthesia services.

“This is not the case in the South West and most children are being referred to PMH to receive the paediatric dental treatments they need, unnecessarily adding to the demand for services at PMH.”

Mr L’Estrange said he had received information provided by a specialist paediatric dentist that there were empty operating theatres in the South West that were suitable for the surgical treatment of children but were not currently being made available for use.

“The Minister for Health should be working with the Health Department to make regional facilities available for specialist children’s dental care so children can receive treatment in their local community”, Mr L’Estrange said.