One of Australia’s eminent dentists has detailed how he was forced to remove all 20 teeth from the heavily infected mouth of a two-year-old girl bottle-fed cola from birth.
Australian Dental Association president Dr Stephen Liew claimed extracting “all 20 teeth” due to “pus-filled abscesses” in Mary’s mouth was the “most traumatic procedure I’ve ever performed”.
“She was bottle-fed cola since birth and ended up in my rural operating theatre when I was quite a young dentist,” Liew told a dental services senate inquiry on Friday.
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“My task was to remove all 20 teeth she had due to pus-filled abscesses all over her mouth.”
Liew said the toddler woke up screaming and with a mouth full of blood, which is when her mother shouted: “What have you done to my daughter?”
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“(The mother) then gave (the child) a cola to calm her,” Liew said.
“It’s still the most traumatic procedure I’ve ever performed.”
About nine kids in every one thousand children are forced into hospital over preventable oral health issues, according to data from the ADA.
The Department of Health says one in 25 Australians aged over 15 have no natural teeth left, and three in 10 delay or avoid going to the dentist because of cost hurdles.
Liew said it was “disturbing” that examples like Mary’s “exist in Australia at all” and claimed the federal Labor government had done little to address the issue in its 17 months in power.
ADA President Stephen Liew has shared the most “traumatic procedure” he’s ever performed. Credit: Supplied/Australian Dental Association
Expanding Medicare to include universal access to free dental care would cost $77.6 billion over the next decade, according to forecasts in early 2022.
However, ADA president Liew argued smaller schemes like the Child Dental Benefits Schedule, established in 2014, are a better option and would be much cheaper — about $100 million annually.
“The infrastructure and the legislation is there to introduce additional dental schemes — so what’s holding the Health Minister up in instigating a similar scheme for seniors, followed by other ones for our most vulnerable groups? When we ask to meet with the Minister to push for these changes, we’re met with a wall of silence,” Liew said.
The Health Minister was sought for comment.
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