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Does Medicare cover dental treatment?

Not sure what you can claim on Medicare? Find out which dental services are covered.

Dental treatments are normally only covered by Medicare if they are considered essential for the patient's wellbeing. While some dental procedures are covered, most general dental examinations and treatments are not. This guide looks at who is eligible and explores some potential solutions through private cover that may not cost as much as you think.

Dental with no waiting period

Need your check up asap? Extras can be a good option. With the Lifestyle Extras plan from ahm, there's no waiting period on general dental from $49.85 monthly. You get other discounts with that too including physio and a free new pair of glasses.

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How does Medicare cover dental procedures?

While Medicare only covers certain essential dental procedures, the Federal Government does provide funding for dental treatment for eligible children and adults through schemes such as:

  • Child Dental Benefits Schedule. This provides benefits for basic dental services for children aged 2 to 17 years who are eligible for Medicare and who receive certain government benefits such as the Family Tax Benefit Part A. The benefits are capped at $1,000 per child every two years and they cover services such as examinations, x-rays, cleaning, fissure sealing, fillings, root canals and extractions.
  • Child and Adult Public Dental Scheme. As of early 2017, this scheme provides ongoing joint funding with the states and territories to assist them with providing public dental services for children, as well as for adults with concession cards.

The aim of these initiatives is to try and improve the oral health of those Australians who cannot afford private health insurance. Those who can afford it have access to dental treatment through extras cover, which provides different levels of cover from general preventative dental treatment through to major dental procedures and orthodontics.

Private dental from $3 per week

Extras cover can be a great way to cover your dental expenses and can help you skip the Medicare queue if you're in a little pain.

We’ve rounded up a few of the basic level partner dental policies. They all have a general dental limit which includes annual check-ups, minor extractions, dental x-rays, minor fillings and teeth cleaning. All these options have a 2 month waiting period.

Provider Policy Limit Cost Per Month Apply
Bronze Extras $350 $11.67 Go to Site
Black 50 saver $400 $13.05 Go to Site
Classic $700 $55.03 Go to Site

Which dental procedures can be covered by Medicare?

The dental procedures that are and are not covered by Medicare include the following:

  • Diagnostic. These procedures are normally covered if a medical practitioner needs to perform a specific procedure to diagnose a dental issue (e.g. a dental X-ray).
  • Preventative. Procedures such as cleaning and scaling are covered up to certain limits for eligible groups because they prevent larger, more expensive dental issues from developing later on in life.
  • Oral surgery. Surgery of the mouth or teeth is only covered in a limited capacity for specific oral surgeries required for particular purposes.
  • Restorative. This is normally partially covered, although waiting limits and some out-of-pocket expenses may apply and it is not covered in all states and territories.
  • Cosmetic. Dental procedures for mainly cosmetic purposes are usually not covered, although those for necessary purposes that happen to have cosmetic benefits are more likely to be covered.

Each state and territory has its own public dental program and the following breakdown summarises the schemes available along with eligibility requirements, fees payable and where participating clinics can be found.

Private health insurance can provide additional cover for a broad range of dental expenses under both general and major dental cover in extras cover. The table below shows the types of treatments typically covered under each. Please note this list is not exhaustive and treatments can vary depending on the policy you choose.

General dental Major dental
  • Dental check-ups
  • Cleaning and scaling
  • Removal of plaque
  • Removal of calculus
  • Dental X-rays
  • Tooth whitening
  • Fillings
  • Simple extractions (excluding wisdom teeth)
  • Wisdom teeth removal
  • Inlays/onlays
  • Crowns
  • Bridges
  • Dentures
  • Orthodontics
  • Root canal therapy
  • Treatment of gum disease
  • Braces
  • Major restorative fillings (e.g. veneers)

What are the Medicare dental procedure conditions for all the Australian states?

Medicare dental cover in NSW

NSW provides public oral health care to eligible people within Local Health Districts. Services include general dentistry (e.g. examinations, fillings and dentures) and are provided in clinics based in community health centres, hospitals and schools in metropolitan areas, and hospitals, schools, community health centres and mobile dental clinics in regional areas.

  • Eligibility

Adults must be over 18, eligible for Medicare and hold or be listed as a dependent on a Health Care Card, Pensioner Concession Card or Commonwealth Seniors Health Card. Children must be under 18 and eligible for Medicare.

  • Benefits for children

Children in NSW may be eligible for the Commonwealth-funded Child Dental Benefits Schedule (CDBS), which provides up to $1,000 in benefits per child for general dental services over two consecutive years.

  • Fees

To help deliver priority dental treatment, the NSW Oral Health Fee For Service Scheme (OHFFSS) allows eligible patients to seek treatment from private dental practitioners. They are issued with a voucher, which they can take to a participating dentist to receive the same treatments provided in a public clinic. Fees are only payable if additional non-approved treatments are performed.

  • Clinics

The list of Local Health Districts in NSW and the contact phone numbers for their respective Oral Health Call Centres can be found at the Health NSW website.

Medicare dental cover in the ACT

The ACT provides a variety of public dental services to eligible groups including child and youth dental services, adult dental services, emergency dental services and a range of denture services.

  • Eligibility

To be eligible for these services, children under 14 years must live in the ACT or be attending an ACT school, and young people over 14 and adults must have access to a Centrelink-issued Pension Concession or Health Care Card.

  • Benefits for children

The ACT’s Child and Youth Dental Scheme provides children and young people with dental services including assessment, oral health plans, general preventative and restorative treatment, and emergency dental treatment. It is available to children under 5 who live in the ACT, children 5 to 14 who live in or attend school in the ACT, and young people under 18 who live in or attend school in the ACT and are covered by a Centrelink Concession Card.

  • Fees

For adult dental treatment, there is a maximum co-payment of $300 a year for restorative treatments, apart from molar endodontics, general anaesthetic and dentures. For children’s dental treatment, a standard fee of $63 per child per course of care applies for children up to the age of 14.

  • Clinics

There are public dental service locations for adults and children throughout the ACT including clinics in Belconnen, Canberra City, Gungahlin, Phillip and Tuggeranong. You can access their contact information at the ACT Health site.

Medicare dental cover in QLD

Queensland Health provides public dental services to eligible adults, adolescents and children through public sector dental clinics located throughout Queensland.

  • Eligibility

Adults must be residents of Queensland receiving benefits from either a Pensioner Concession Card issued by Centrelink or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, a Health Care Card, a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card or a Queensland Seniors Card.

Children are eligible if they are named as a dependant on any of these cards or if they are in the guardianship of the Director-General, the Department of Families or Youth and Community Care.

  • Benefits for children

Queensland Health provides publicly funded oral health care for children via its Child and Adolescent Oral Health Services. All children four years and over who have not completed Year 10 of secondary school are eligible. Children in Queensland may also be eligible for the Federal Government’s Child Dental Benefits Schedule (CDBS), which provides up to $1,000 in benefits per child for general dental services over two years.

  • Fees

Public sector oral health services are funded by the Queensland Government and are provided at no charge to eligible patients.

  • Clinics

Public oral health services are provided through a range of mobile, school and community dental clinics and you can locate your nearest clinic by going to Queensland Health.

Medicare dental cover in WA

The WA Government Department of Health provides subsidised dental care to eligible patients in the Perth metropolitan area and a number of country locations, with eligible patients being placed on a Public Dental Clinic waiting list.

  • Eligibility

To be eligible, adults must hold a Health Care Card or a Pensioner Concession Card, while all school children aged 5 to 17 (or until they finish Year 11) are eligible for the School Dental Service program.

  • Benefits for children

The WA Government’s School Dental Service program provides free general dental care to WA school children from pre-primary through to Year 11, and to Year 12 in remote locations. It is a public dental health program with an emphasis on prevention and education, and treatment is limited to general practice care only.

  • Fees

Emergency or general dental care at a Public Dental Clinic or participating private dental practitioner attracts a fee, which is subsidised by the government up to a maximum of 75% of the cost of treatment.

  • Clinics

You can find a list of contact details for public dental clinics in your area of WA by going to the Government of Western Australia Department of Health, Dental Health Services.

Medicare dental cover in the NT

The NT Government’s OHS-NT provides oral health services to eligible patients, including pain and trauma management, emergency care, restorative fillings and repairs, endodontics, extractions, oral hygiene, oral health promotion and denture services. They also provide specialist services including orthodontics, oral surgery and treatment in hospital under general anaesthetic.

  • Eligibility

Adults must hold a Centrelink Pensioner Concession Card or Health Care Card and all children up to the age of 18 are eligible for free dental services through school-based and community clinics and mobile services.

  • Benefits for children

OHS-NT provides services to NT children under 18 through the Child Oral Health Service. Services are provided at primary school-based clinics and community dental clinics in urban areas, and at community health centres and mobile clinics in rural and remote areas.

  • Fees

Dental services are provided free to eligible adults and children, although waiting lists may apply and patients are prioritised according to urgency.

  • Clinics

For the contact details of dental clinics in Darwin, Palmerston, Alice Springs and Tennant Creek, plus community clinics in remote areas, go to the Northern Territory Government Department of Health website.

Medicare dental cover in TAS

Oral Health Services Tasmania provides dental services to eligible patients including priority care, general care (check-ups, fillings, extractions, etc.) and denture services.

  • Eligibility

Adults must hold a Health Care Card or a Pensioner Concession Card and all children under 18 years of age are eligible, including preschoolers.

  • Benefits for children

Oral Health Services Tasmania provides free dental care for children up to 18 years of age, which includes dental check-ups and any necessary treatment determined by the check-up, plus X-rays, dietary advice, oral hygiene instruction and referral for further assessment or treatment if required.

  • Fees

All adults are required to pay a co-payment towards the cost of their dental care, but almost all treatment for children is free if bulk-billed.

  • Clinics

Services are provided from dental centres in Burnie, Devonport, Launceston, Clarence and Hobart, plus additional locations around the state for children and adolescents. You can find a full list of locations on the Tasmanian Government Department of Health and Human Services website.

Medicare dental cover in VIC

The Victorian Government’s Dental Health Program provides public dental care to eligible patients. Services include both routine and urgent dental care and are provided through the Royal Dental Hospital Melbourne and 79 clinics across the state, operated by community health and rural public health services.

  • Eligibility

Adults must be 18 and over and hold or be listed as a dependant on a Health Care Card or Pensioner Concession Card. All children up to 12 years are eligible, plus young people aged 13 to 17 years who hold or are dependants on a Health Care or Pensioner Concession Card.

  • Benefits for children

Children in Victoria may also be eligible for the Commonwealth Child Dental Benefits Schedule (CDBS), which provides up to $1,000 per child for general dental services over two years.

  • Fees

Fees may apply to patients 18 and over who hold or are listed as a dependant on a Health Care Card or a Pensioner Concession Card, and children up to 12 years who do not hold a concession card or are not dependants of concession card holders.

Exemptions include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, the homeless, refugees, asylum seekers, children and young people up to 18 years old in out-of-home care or youth justice custodial care, people registered with mental health and disability services and those experiencing financial hardship.

  • Clinics

There are more than 80 community dental clinics located throughout metropolitan Melbourne and rural Victoria and you can find a clinic near you by visiting the Dental Health Services Victoria.

Medicare dental cover in SA

The SA Dental Service provides a range of dental services for eligible adults and all children under 18 years of age at school and community clinics throughout SA and at the Adelaide Dental Hospital.

  • Eligibility

Adults must hold a Health Care Card or a Pensioner Concession Card issued by Centrelink or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, and all children under 18 years of age who live or go to school in SA are eligible for the government’s School Dental Service.

  • Benefits for children

The School Dental Service offers dental services for all children under 18 years of age who live or go to school in SA. Services are provided by teams of dentists, oral health therapists and dental assistants at clinics throughout SA, and dental care is also provided free for babies and preschoolers.

  • Fees

Adult concession card holders contribute towards their dental care by paying a client fee. Currently, this is $59 for emergency dental care and up to $155 for general dental care. Fees are also payable for dentures and denture repairs.

  • Clinics

You can find a full list of dental clinics in SA by location for both children and adults at the SA Health website.

Use the free comparison tool to compare dental options

Think you may need something a bit more comprehensive? Or want to grab a few extra health perks? Simply enter your details on our health insurance tool.

For dental only, select extras then hit Search Policies. You can use the filters to sort policies by general dental, major dental, endodontic and orthodontic limits.

Picture: Shutterstock

Tim Falk

A freelance writer with a passion for the written word, Tim loves helping Australians find the right home loans and savings accounts. When he's not chained to a computer, Tim can usually be found exploring the great outdoors.

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4 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    ChantelOctober 10, 2018

    Hello,my daughter had a dental surgery last month which costed 2,300.she had four crowns and filling plus an extraction.i dont know if i can claim some money back from medicsre.thanks

    • finder Customer Care
      JohnOctober 10, 2018Staff

      Hi Chantel,

      Thank you for reaching out to finder, a comparison website.

      You may need to reach out directly to Medicare regarding this query to ensure that they know what type of surgery was done. This will also give you a better idea of what Medicare could cover based on the surgery done to your daughter. Hope this helps!


  2. Default Gravatar
    TimApril 27, 2017

    I am an aged pensioner,i do not have any form of private health cover.Recently i had an abscess on a bottom back tooth.Whilst i was able to claim the visit to the g.p.for the antibiotics to fix the infection .I am wondering wether i can claim the actual dental work the root canals necessary to prevent further problems .the actual cost for the procedure was over $1000 .can i claim some of this cost through medicare
    Thank you

    • finder Customer Care
      ZubairMay 1, 2017Staff

      Hi Tim,

      Thank you for your question.

      You have contacted, a comparison and information service and not actually Medicare.

      You will need to contact Department of Human Services directly about this matter.

      All the best,

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