Settlement Guide

Settlement Guide: How do I access public dental care in Australia?

Source: AAP

Getting regular dental check-ups from an early age can help your oral health later in life. However, Medicare will only cover some dental services if they are necessary to protect your general health.

So, who is eligible and what are the other options?

Where to find public dental services?

At the dentist
Male Patient Receiving Treatment In Clinic
Getty Images/Xixinxing


Public dental services are usually delivered via mobile dental clinics, school dental clinics and community dental clinics. For more details on public dental services in your state or territory, visit your State Health Department's website.

Who is eligible?


Every state has slightly different criteria, but generally if you have a Health Care Card, Pension Concession Card issued by Centrelink, Commonwealth Seniors Health Card, Pensioner Concession Card issued by the Department of Veterans' Affairs you are eligible for publicly funded dental care. For example, in Victoria refugees and asylum seekers will also be provided with free care.

What about children and young people?

Brushing teeth

Almost all Australian children with Medicare can benefit from the Australian Government's Child Dental Benefits Schedule. It varies from state to state but generally children before they turn eighteen are eligible for care if they fit within a certain family tax benefit. Some states, like Queensland, require a completed medical history and consent form for all children and young people prior to treatment. The consent forms have now been translated into 20 community languages.

Visiting a private practice?

Department of Human Services

When it comes to paying for dental services, fees vary a lot depending on the dentist and where you live. A good health insurance can reduce the bill, but it will rarely cover the whole cost. On average, private health insurance customers claim back only around half of the dental fees.

What if you don't have insurance?

Dentist visit

If you are on a budget it’s important to ask your dentist about the costs before you commit to the procedure and that way it will be easier for you to budget.

How to reduce cost?

You could take an appointment at a dentistry school. It could save you money as their fees are generally lower than private practices.

More information?

For more information about public dental services in your state or territory, visit your State Health Department's website.

Australian Capital Territory - ACT Health

New South Wales - NSW Health

Northern Territory - Department of Health

Queensland - Queensland Health

South Australia - South Australian Dental Service

Tasmania - Oral Health Services Tasmania

Victoria - Department of Health

Western Australia - Dental Health Service

Child Dental Benefits Schedule

Australian Dental Association

Choice on dental care

Victoria Dental Health Services