the Australian Dental Association
Written by the Australian Dental Association, Dec 05, 2022
Fact Checked

The Australian Government works with state and territory governments to fund dental services and improve dental health. Treatment provided by public dental clinics include emergency dental care and selected general dental treatments.

Public dental care is only available to a limited segment of the Australian population. Adults must generally have a healthcare card or Centrelink pensioner concession card to be eligible. Depending on the state or territory in which you live, dental treatments may be free of charge or a partial payment for the treatment may be required. 35% of people are eligible for public dental care, however the waiting list to receive treatment can be very long, sometimes years.

Eligible populations in each Australian state and territory including the contact details for dental services are listed below. 

The Child Dental Benefits Schedule

The Child Dental Benefits Schedule (CDBS) is a national initiative that allows eligable children aged 1-17 to access dental care. Using the CDBS, children can access examinations, x-rays, professional dental cleans, fissure sealants, fillings, root canal treatments and tooth extractions. The CDBS does not cover orthodontic or cosmetic dental work.
The CDBS can be used at public dental services and private dental clinics.

Public dental services

Eligible populations in each Australian state and territory, including the contact details for public dental services, are listed below.

Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

Government dentist services are available to children that fit the following criteria.
  • All children under 5 who live in the ACT.
  • All children between 5 and 14 years who live or attend school in the ACT.
  • Young people living or attending school in the ACT under the age of 18 who are covered by a current Centrelink concession card.

Dental health services for ACT residents aged 18 years and over is available to those that hold a current ACT Centrelink issued pension, concession or healthcare card. Treatment can include general restorative, denture and emergency dental services.
Further information on accessing dental health services and booking an appointment can be found here.

New South Wales (NSW)

All children under 18 years of age who are NSW residents are eligible for public dental health services in NSW.
Adult NSW residents must be eligible for Medicare and have their name listed on one of the following Australian Government concession cards:
  • Health Care Card
  • Pensioner Concession Card
  • Commonwealth Seniors Health Card

Additional eligibility criteria may apply for dental specialist services or dental services provided in a hospital.
Further information on accessing dental health services and booking an appointment can be found here.
Contact your local public dental service to make an appointment.


Northern Territory (NT)

The following residents of the Northern Territory can access public dental services.
  • Children under 18 years of age - as long the child has not finished school and does not work full time.
  • Individuals part of the Federal Government's Cleft Lip and Palate Scheme.
  • Holders of a Centrelink Pensioner Concession Card or a Centrelink Health Care Card.
  • Remote residents needing emergency dental care and who do not have access to private dental services - you must be more than 100km from your nearest health service.

To make an appointment.
  • Residents in Central Australia can call Oral Health Services on (08) 8951 6713. 
  • Residents in Top End can call Oral Health Services on (08) 8922 6466.
Further information on accessing dental health services and booking an appointment can be found here.

Queensland (QLD)

Children and young people eligible for public oral health services include those who are:
  • In prep (Aged four years or older) through to year 10.
  • Aged less than 4 years or in years 11 and 12 at school who are listed as a dependent on a valid Centrelink concession card or are the holder of a valid Centrelink concession card.
  • Eligible for Medicare’s Child Dental Benefits Schedule
They must be a Queensland resident and be eligible for Medicare.

For adults in Queensland can access Government dental care, they must be a Queensland resident and eligible for Medicare. They must also be receiving benefits from one of the following concession cards:
  • Pension Concession Card Issued by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
  • Pensioner Concession Card issued by Centrelink.
  • Health Care Card.
  • Commonwealth Seniors Health Card.
  • Queensland Seniors Card.
This eligibility is extended to dependents named on an eligible adult’s concession card. More information on adult eligibility can be found in the Oral Health Services Guidelines.

Free dental care is also available for:
  • Public hospital inpatients
  • Public hospital outpatients
  • Forde Foundation clients
  • Cleft Lip and Palate Scheme patients
  • Refugees
  • Asylum seekers.
Contact your nearest public dental clinic to make an appointment.

South Australia (SA)

Individuals under 18 years of age can access public dental care through the School Dental Service clinic.
There are no out-of-pocket costs for the following children.
  • Children not yet at school.
  • Eligible for the Medicare Child Dental Benefits Schedule (CDBS).
  • Covered by a Pensioner Concession card, Health Care Card or School Card Scheme.
A small fee may apply for all other children accessing dental care through School Dental Services.
More information on the SA School Dental Service can be found here.

Adults living in South Australia who have a current Health Care Card or Pensioner Concession Card can access dental care at SA Dental clinics. Eligible cards include:
  • Centrelink Pensioner Concession Card Human Services
  • Centrelink Pensioner Concession Card Veterans’ Affairs
  • Centrelink (Human services) Health Care Card
Adult dependents (under 19 years) of the card holder whose names are on the card, can access dental care.

Contact your local dental service for more information or to make an appointment.

Tasmania (TAS)

All children up to the age of 18 years can access government dental treatment at Oral Health Services Tasmania.

To make an appointment for a child, call 1300 011 013 or fill out the dental appointment request form for children.

Dental and denture services are provided in government dental clinics to all eligible Tasmanian adults that hold a current Pensioner Concession Card or Health Care Card.
A small fee applies to all treatments provided to adult patients.

More information on adult dental care can be found here.

Find your closest dental clinic for both adults and children, click here. To make an appointment, call 1300 011 013.

Victoria (VIC)

Eligibility conditions for children to access public dental care in Victoria include the following.
  • Live in Victoria, and
  • Eligible for the Child Dental Benefits Schedule (2 - 17 years)
  • They or their parents hold a Health Care card or Pension Card (13 – 17 years)
  • A youth justice client in custodial care, regardless of age
  • In out-of-home care, provided by the Children Youth and Families Division of the Development of Human Services (up to 18 years)
Children aged 0 -12 years are eligible for dental care, no matter their family’s income.

Adults aged 18 years and over may be eligible for public dental care if they live in Victoria and hold one of the following cards.
  • Centrelink Health Care Card
  • Centrelink Pensioner Concession Card
  • Department of Veteran’s Affairs (DVA) Veteran Gold Card
  • Department of Veteran’s Affairs (DVA) Veteran Pensioner Concession Card
Refugee or asylum seekers, and Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people are eligible for public dental care.

Further information on eligibility for dental care and fees involved in treatment can be found here, as well details of your local dental clinic.

Western Australia (WA)


Children aged 0 to 4 whose name appears on their parent’s Health Care or Pension Concession Card are eligible to attend a government general dental clinic for care.

The School Dental Service (SDS) provides free dental care to students aged 5 to 16 or until the end of year 11, (whichever comes first) and attending a Department of Education recognised school.
This dental care is delivered state-wide through 100 dental therapy centres (DTC), which are co-located with schools. Forty mobile DTCs travel to 150 schools where an onsite dental clinic is not present.


General dental clinics provide reduced cost (subsidised) general and emergency dental care for individuals aged 17 and over and who hold a current Health Care or Pension Concession Card.

WA residents living in remote locations without access to a private dentist are able to have dental treatment at a public dental clinic. However, if you do not have a Health Care or Pensioner Concession Card you will be required to pay the full fee.
If there is no public dental clinic in town, the Country Patients Dental Subsidy Scheme may allow you to go to a private dentist to receive dental care. For more information on these Scheme, call (08) 9313 0555.

More information on government dental care in Western Australia can be found here.

Find your closest public general dental clinic, school dental service or Country Patient Scheme private dental clinic and their contact details here.