- What does SA Dental Service do?
- Am I eligible for publicly funded dental treatment?
- I’m not an Australian resident. Can I access public dental care in South Australia?
- I’m visiting from interstate. Can I access public dental care in South Australia?
- What if I have a dental emergency eg facial swelling, bleeding or trauma?
- What do I have to do to arrange a check-up or dental treatment?
- Where’s my closest clinic?
- When’s the best time to phone a clinic?
- What will happen if I call one of the SA Dental Service clinics to ask for an appointment?
- What if I’m offered student care but don’t want it?
- Can I have dental treatment at any SA Dental Service clinic?
- Are there waiting lists for public dental care?
- I’m eligible for public dental care and would like to add my name to the waiting list. What do I need to do?
- My name is on the waiting list. How do I find out how much longer I have to wait?
- I want to change my appointment, update my contact details, or advise that I no longer require your services. How do I do this?
- What will happen if I don't attend my appointment?
- Do I have to pay for dental treatment?
- What if I can’t afford the fees?
- Can I claim any of my SA Dental Service costs through a private health fund?
- I think I need specialist treatment. What’s available?
- I have mobility difficulties and use a wheelchair. How will my dental treatment be provided?
- I am (my child is) fearful about having dental treatment. How will this be addressed?
- What’s the Medicare Teen Dental Plan?
- I've received a postcard which offers a free dental check up. What's this about?
- Another dentist / health provider / third party eg lawyer, SAPOL, insurance company wants a copy of my SA Dental Service treatment records. What do they need to do?
- What if I want a copy of my SA Dental Service treatment records just for my own information?
- If I need help to make informed decisions about my oral health care, may I bring someone else to an appointment?
- What are my rights in relation to the dental care of someone for whom I have custody / guardianship?
- I need some help to make contact with SA Dental Service. What can I do?
- I want to provide some feedback to SA Dental Service. How do I do this?
- I’m looking for some oral health resources. Do you have any posters, brochures, information sheets I can access?
- I would like to find out about job opportunities in SA Dental Service. Do you have some information to which I can refer?
1. What does SA Dental Service do?
SA Dental Service provides a range of publicly funded dental services for eligible children and adults at clinics throughout South Australia. SA Dental Service also works in partnership with the University of Adelaide to educate and train a large part of the State’s dental workforce.
2. Am I eligible for publicly funded dental treatment?
Children - all children and young people aged under 18 years are eligible to attend the School Dental Service regardless of their parent’s or guardian’s Pensioner Concession / Health Care Card status.
Adults - to be eligible for basic dental treatment through SA Dental Service, adults need to have (or be a dependant of a holder of) a current concession card (Pensioner Concession Card or Health Care Card), or a Department of Veterans’ Affairs Pensioner Concession Card.
If you are uncertain about eligibility, contact your local clinic (PDF 19k) for more information.
If you have a Department of Veterans’ Affairs Gold or White Card, you may be eligible for treatment with Veteran Dental Services. To find out more, call the Department of Veterans’ Affairs on 13 32 54.
3. I’m not an Australian resident. Can I access public dental care in South Australia?
If you are not an Australian resident, you are not eligible for public dental care and will need to have your dental treatment provided by a private dental provider at your own cost.
Overseas visitors - if you are visiting from overseas and require dental care, you will need to be seen by a private dental provider at your own cost. Your private travel or health insurance may cover some of your costs.
Overseas adult students - if you are an overseas adult student studying in South Australia and require dental care, you will most likely need to be seen by a private dental provider at your own cost. However, it may be worth checking whether your country of origin has any arrangements in place which might entitle you to assistance with accessing dental care and/or meeting treatment costs.
4. I’m visiting from interstate. Can I access public dental care in South Australia?
If you are visiting from interstate and are eligible for public dental care, you may be able to access emergency only dental care through SA Dental Service if you have facial swelling, bleeding or trauma. You may also be able to access urgently required denture repairs.
5. What if I have a dental emergency eg facial swelling, bleeding or trauma?
If you are not eligible for public dental treatment and experience severe facial swelling, bleeding or trauma, you should see a dentist, your local doctor or attend your local hospital.
If you are eligible for public dental treatment and have a dental concern during business hours, contact your local clinic (PDF 19k).
After hours, call healthdirect Australia on 1800 022 222 for advice on further care options.
6. What do I have to do to arrange a check-up or dental treatment?
As an adult, if you believe you are eligible for treatment through SA Dental Service, you should phone your nearest Community Dental Service clinic for further information. For children, phone the nearest School Dental Service clinic for treatment.
7. Where's my closest clinic?
To find the clinic closest to you, check our clinic list (PDF 19k)
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8. When’s the best time to phone a clinic?
Most dental clinics are available by phone from 8:45am-4:15pm Monday to Friday. Clinic phones are often busiest early in the morning, so where possible general enquiries should be made later in the day.
If a clinic is closed for some reason eg staff training, lunch, school holidays or refurbishment, a recorded message will let you know when the clinic will reopen and/or give you another number to call in an emergency.
9. What will happen if I call one of the SA Dental Service clinics to ask for an appointment?
As an adult, if you phone your local community dental clinic, staff will first assess your dental situation by asking you some questions.
Depending on the outcome from that assessment, you may be
- offered an appointment within a day or two; or
- offered an appointment within a few weeks; or
- invited to place your name on a waiting list, if you have not already done so.
Treatment through SA Dental Service may be provided by students under the supervision of qualified dental professionals.
If an appointment is offered, treatment may be provided
- in-house at a local Community Dental Service clinic; or
- at the Adelaide Dental Hospital; or
- by a private dentist under one of the Dental Schemes operated by SA Dental Service.
As a parent, if you phone your local School Dental Service clinic, staff will ask you a few questions about your child and then offer an appointment. Your child will be seen by a dental therapist or dentist who will assess your child’s dental needs and talk with you about what general dental care might be provided.
10.What if I’m offered student care but don’t want it?
Students who are being trained under supervision are an integral part of the public dental system. Students assist us to provide more services and better manage our waiting lists. While a number of students undertake clinical placements in some of our community clinics, a significant amount of student training is done at the Adelaide Dental Hospital.
As an adult, if you are assessed as being suitable for dental care with students but you decline the offer, your offer of care may be withdrawn. You may place your name back on the bottom of the waiting list. However, when your name next comes to the top of the waiting list, your offer of care may again be with a dental student.
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11. Can I have dental treatment at any SA Dental Service clinic?
We encourage you to attend the community or school dental service clinic closest to where you live. However you may attend another clinic if it is more convenient for you to do so.
12. Are there waiting lists for public dental care?
There are waiting lists for almost all adult dental services. Waiting times vary dependent on the clinic and the type of dental care required. There are no waiting lists for general dental care for children who are eligible to attend the School Dental Service, although it may take a few weeks to get an appointment for a preferred day or time.
13. I’m eligible for public dental care and would like to add my name to the waiting list. What do I need to do?
You will usually need to visit your local clinic to arrange for this to occur. Contact your local clinic (PDF 19k) if you have any questions about this.
14. My name is on the waiting list. How do I find out how much longer I have to wait?
Your local clinic will be able to give you an idea of how much longer you might have to wait for dental care. Contact your local clinic (PDF 19k)
15. I want to...
- cancel or change my appointment
- advise of my new contact details
- advise that I / my child are no longer eligible for or need public dental services.
Contact your local clinic (PDF 19k).
16. What will happen if I don't attend my dental appointment?
Appointments for dental care are arranged so that as many people as possible can be seen in a day.
If you don't attend your appointment or don't tell us early enough that you can't get to your appointment time, then the clinic is left with a vacancy. So the sooner you let clinic staff know that you won't be able to attend, the greater the chance of your appointment time being offered to someone else in need.
While an unexpected event can arise for anyone, if you are receiving a full course of dental care (not just emergency care) and fail to attend or cancel an appointment twice in a row without a reasonable explanation, then that course of care will be cancelled. If you still want a full course of dental care, your name will have to go back on the bottom of the waiting list. Different arrangements may apply for specialist units at the Adelaide Dental Hospital.
17. Do I have to pay for dental treatment?
Preschool Children - dental care for preschool children is free.
Primary and Secondary School Children - dental care is free for primary and secondary school children who have a school card or are dependants of a concession card holder. Fees apply if primary and secondary school children do not have a school card or are not dependants of a concession card holder. For more information about fees, contact your local clinic (PDF 19k). You might also like to refer to “What’s the Medicare Teen Dental Plan?”
Adults - adult concession card holders are required to contribute towards the costs of their dental care in South Australia. From 1 July each year, fees for public dental care usually increase and affect all dental services. Fees differ depending on whether you have general or emergency dental care, dentures or specialist services. Staff will speak with you about your costs before you have treatment. For more information about adult client fees and how to pay, click here.
18. What if I can’t afford the fees?
If you are experiencing severe financial hardship, speak with clinic staff who can discuss payment options with you and if needed, can refer you to a financial counsellor who may be able to help. You will not be refused immediate emergency care if you cannot pay.
19. Can I claim any of my SA Dental Service costs through a private health fund?
Whether or not private health insurance providers will reimburse any of your fees is at their discretion, so you will need to check this out directly with your private health fund provider.
20. I think I need specialist treatment. What’s available?
Access to specialist dental treatment is limited. However, the Adelaide Dental Hospital (ADH) which is part of SA Dental Service and is located on Frome Road, Adelaide, provides some specialist dental treatment such as orthodontics, specialist restorative care and oral surgery.
To access any of these specialist services, a referral is needed from a community dental clinic. Therefore contact with your local clinic is always a first step. If your treatment is able to be provided at the ADH, staff at your local clinic can speak with you about the referral and assessment process, any costs and likely waiting times. For more information about the range of specialist services provided by the ADH, click here.
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21.I have mobility difficulties and use a wheelchair. How will my dental treatment be provided?
If you are unable to make an unassisted transfer from your wheelchair into the dentist’s chair, you may be provided with dental treatment whilst in your wheelchair, depending on the complexity of the dental care you require. If this is not possible, your dentist will discuss other options with you, which may include a referral for treatment at another location.
22.I am (my child is) fearful about having dental treatment. How will this be addressed?
Some people might be a little anxious about seeing a dental practitioner. There are a number of ways that this might be managed. Your dental practitioner will be able to talk with you about how best to provide treatment.
23.What’s the Medicare Teen Dental Plan?
The Medicare Teen Dental Plan was introduced by the Commonwealth Government to help with the cost of an annual preventive dental check for eligible teenagers aged 12 – 17 years.
If a teenager is eligible, a voucher will usually be sent to them by Medicare. These vouchers can be redeemed at any School Dental Service clinic or participating private dental practitioner. If presented at a School Dental Service clinic, the vouchers entitle teenagers to a full course of dental care including preventative care and any treatment required at no cost. For more information about the program or eligibility, visit the Medicare website
24.I've received a postcard which offers a free dental check-up. What's this about?
These postcards are forwarded by our School Dental Service to young people once they turn 18. The postcards are intended to prompt young adults who are no longer eligible for school dental services to continue having regular dental check ups. This “dental reminder“ program is different from the Commonwealth Government funded Teen Dental Plan.
The postcards, which are valid for 1 year from the date on the card, provide a free check up appointment with a private dentist. If you receive a reminder postcard, it's important to phone the private dentist to see if they participate in the program before you make an appointment.
25. Another dentist / health provider / third party eg lawyer, SAPOL, insurance company wants a copy of my SA Dental Service treatment records. What do they need to do?
If another dentist, specialist, health provider or third party needs access to your SA Dental Service treatment records, they must first ask for your written permission. Once they have this, they can request a copy of your records from the relevant SA Dental Service clinic. For more information about this topic, click here.
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26. What if I want a copy of my SA Dental Service treatment records just for my own information?
There are times when you might need to access a copy of your treatment information. The Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 1991 generally gives you the right to access your records. You can request your records personally or through a third party. If you believe that your records are incorrect, out of date or misleading you can ask for your records to be amended. To find out more about making a FOI application and the fees and charges that apply, or for an Application Form, click here.
27. If I need help to make informed decisions about my oral health care, may I bring someone else to an appointment?
Understanding information about dental treatment and care is important. You are welcome to request the presence of another person who may be a friend, family member, carer or advocate. If an interpreter is needed at your appointment, speak with clinic staff before your visit, so that arrangements can be made for this to occur. NOTE: Only accredited interpreters, not friends or family members, can be used to interpret.
28. What are my rights in relation to the dental care of someone for whom I have custody / guardianship?
If you are the custodial parent or guardian of a relative’s / friend’s child (in loco parentis), you have the right to be informed of and make decisions about that child’s dental treatment until they are 16 years old. From the age of 16, the young person has a right to make their own decisions about dental and medical treatment.
Where a child or young person is under the Guardianship of the Minister for Families and Communities, a carer and/or departmental worker is usually involved in decision-making. Treatment for these children and young people is free.
If a person is ill and unable to make decisions about their medical treatment, you can make those decisions for them if you have a Medical Power of Attorney.
29. I need some help to make contact with SA Dental Service. What can I do?
If for any reason you feel that you are unable to properly explain your ideas or concerns, or you need some help to deal with an issue, speak with clinic staff who may be able to assist. If needed, staff can also organise an accredited interpreter for you, including Auslan interpreters.
30. I want to provide some feedback to SA Dental Service. How do I do this?
Your comments are welcome and help us to improve our services.
If you would like to
- pass on a compliment
- comment or offer a service improvement idea, or
- make a complaint
speak with clinic staff, or your Local Operations Manager (for adult and school dental clinics) or Hospital Unit Manager (Adelaide Dental Hospital) in the first instance. For more information, click here.
31. I’m looking for some oral health resources. Do you have any posters, brochures, information sheets I can access?
To check out some of our oral health resources, go to our Home Page and click on “Resources”. You can print these resources, or place an order for them by downloading and completing the order form, or by phoning 8222 9016.
32. I would like to find out about job opportunities in SA Dental Service. Do you have some information to which I can refer?
SA Dental Service needs a large number of staff to provide oral health services to the community, so we welcome enquiries from people who may be able to help us achieve this aim. To find out more about SA Dental Service roles and job opportunities, click here or join our group on Facebook .
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