THE Australian Dental Association (ADA) has met with Charles Sturt University (CSU) to resolve a dispute over claims there is an oversupply of dentists in Australia.
In January the ADA proposed to restrict the number of dentistry places available at universities, which CSU vice chancellor Andrew Vann said was dangerous for rural communities.
CSU corporate affairs director Mark Burdack said the meeting between CSU, the ADA, NSW Dentistry Association, Rural Dental Action Group and a Bathurst dentist enabled both sides of the argument to better understand each other.
“Our concern was that there may be an oversupply in the city, but there isn’t in the bush and that a national cap on places would exacerbate shortages in the bush,” he said.
Mr Burdack says research shows students who study in the bush are more likely to stay in the bush, and the same can be said for people who study in the city.
“It’s a really strange phenomena in Australia,” he said.
“People don’t like to move to go to work.”
Mr Burdack said there had been an increase in the number of graduates in part-time work, which suggested students were more willing to take on part-time work than to move to regional areas for full-time work.
“We’ll [CSU and ADA] work together to help come up with strategies to combat the shortage in the bush,” he said.
According to the Australian International Health and Welfare Institute there are 25 dentists per 100,000 people in regional areas, while in metropolitan areas there are 66 dentists per 100,000.
In inner-regional areas like Orange the figure is about 44 dentists per 100,000.
“It’s also not that simple,” Mr Burdack said.
“The geography between metro areas is different to regional areas, so the ratio gives us some insight but it’s not a complete answer.”
People in metropolitan areas have higher dental hygiene than their rural counterparts.