Report on the Audit of Health Workforce in Rural and Regional Australia

4.3 Dental workforce

Page last updated: April 2008


  • The number of dental graduates from Australia’s dental schools is one-third lower today than in the 1970s.
  • Dental schools find it hard to attract and retain teaching staff.
  • Professional development can be costly or difficult to access for professionals in rural areas.
  • There is widespread support in the profession for a compulsory internship year for final year dentistry students to address issues of quality and safety of dental services provided by recent graduates.


  • Low remuneration together with salary differences between jurisdictions and the public and private sector is a barrier to recruitment in rural and regional Australia.
  • The existing dental workforce is ageing. As an increasing number of baby boomer dentists are moving towards retirement years there is potential for a generational void in the dental workforce.


  • There are gaps in data and information on the dental workforce.
  • Dental therapists and hygienists are now being trained under a single university qualification, the Bachelor of Oral Health, which will create issues for scope of practice guidelines.