Access to adequate dental care is essential for a person’s overall health and wellbeing. Yet for a variety of reasons, prisoners in Western Australia face many barriers accessing dental care and the provision of care largely depends on where a person is being held. The Department of Justice has limited oversight over the dental care being provided to prisoners by the Department of Health, and it has not made significant effort to review or evaluate service delivery over the past ten years. Despite this, the Department of Justice advised us that dental care was ‘performing well’ compared to the level of service and wait times observed in the community. However, this argument is flawed: Prisoners have considerably higher dental needs compared to the general population, with some clinicians estimating that prisoners’ needs are, on average, four times greater than the wider community. Furthermore, we found extensive wait times occurred, in part, because the number of available dentists currently servicing the prison estate is about a tenth of the required resources needed to meet their needs.

Page last updated: December 7, 2021

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