Wodonga school students will have brighter smiles and hard-working local families will avoid hefty dental bills, thanks to free dental care being rolled out at all public primary and secondary schools.

The Victorian Budget 2019/20 provides $321.9 million for the Andrews Labor Government’s free dental care, as promised, with the first schools dental vans to hit the road later this year.

Wodonga joins Cranbourne, Barwon South and Box Hill as the first locations set to be visited by the school dental vans in Term 3, before it’s rolled out to all Victorian public schools by 2022.

Oral disease is one of the most common and expensive diseases to treat, but it’s also the most preventable. Across Australia, a quarter of all children have untreated tooth decay; and in Victoria, dental conditions are the highest single cause of preventable hospitalisations for kids under 10.

The Smile Squad vans will provide free check-ups and treatment including teeth cleaning, fluoride applications, fillings, root canals and any other non-cosmetic treatments to make sure our kids have healthy teeth.

All Victorian public primary and secondary school students will receive their own free dental packs, complete with a toothbrush, and lots of education about the benefits of a healthy, bright smile.

The Labor Government’s landmark free dental care program will drive down big dental costs for families, with bills expected to be slashed by $400 each year for each kid. It will also free up more than 100,000 places for adults in the public dental system each year, reducing wait times.

The full fleet of Smile Squad vans will hit the road by 2022, providing free check-ups and dental treatment for about 650,000 school kids every year. Around 500 dentists, oral health therapists and dental assistants will be employed to staff the vans.

Quotes attributable to Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes

“This is about making sure our kids maintain a smile and families save on costly trips to the dentist. We said we’d deliver free dental for all public school students, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”

“I’m delighted Wodonga is one of the first locations set to be visited by our free dental vans. This will make a big difference for hundreds of local families.”

Quote attributable to Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos

 “Tooth decay is preventable, but we all know dental bills hit the hip pocket hard. That’s why our free dental care in public schools program is so important.”