School dental van program

The Australian Dental Association Victorian Branch (ADAVB) is monitoring how the school dental van program will integrate into the existing public and private dental sectors, and is in ongoing discussions with the Victorian Government about the program development and evaluation.

The Victorian Government's school dental van program will provide free dental care to all students at Victorian government primary and secondary schools.

The commitment includes 250 school dental vans, with screening and treatment to occur on school premises. The program, called the ‘Smile Squad’, will offer free general dental care excluding orthodontics. All children attending Victorian government primary and secondary schools will be eligible, using Child Dental Benefits Schedule (CDBS) funding where possible.

Key information from the initial Smile Squad budget documents:

  • Annual screening and treatment of more than 630,000 primary and secondary students in public schools, on school days
  • Costings: total cost estimated to be $322 million, with approximately $128 million coming from the CDBS
  • Expected coverage of 50 per cent of schools in 2020, 75 per cent in 2021 and 100 per cent in 2022
  • 100 per cent take-up for screening and 35 per cent of those who are screened will require treatment
  • Where possible, all treatment will be provided in vans.

While this is a positive increase in child oral health funding, the ADAVB is monitoring how the program will integrate into the existing public and private dental sectors.

Advice for private dental practices:

  • Consider offering a free oral health care kit to school aged children at check-ups
  • Send out recalls prior to school holidays, providing it aligns with the correct recall period for the patient
  • Use resources to promote the importance of seeing your regular dentist and promoting continuity of care
  • Promote the Medicare CDBS to eligible patients
  • Encourage utilisation of private health insurance extras cover, especially approaching the end of the calendar year or in a new calendar year

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the program. For up-to-date information on the program and locations to be visited by the vans, refer to the Victorian Government’s Smile Squad web page.