Cameron Bloomfield hasn’t had a routine dental check-up since he was in primary school.
“I’ve only seen dentists when I had a toothache. I’ve never had a regular dentist, like you have a regular doctor,” the 37-year-old says.
“It’s too expensive, having an intellectual disability and being on the disability pension.”
Accessing dental care has always been a battle involving lengthy public dental waitlists and, at times, desperate calls to his contacts in the disability sector.
As an adult, Mr Bloomfield has only seen a dentist a handful of times — always in emergencies — and most often those visits ended with the removal of the troublesome tooth.
“I have lost a few teeth in my adult life,” Mr Bloomfield says.
“I’d go in and see the dentist and they’ll just pull the tooth out. It’s all that they’ll ever really do, they wouldn’t do anything else.”
Apart from learning to brush his teeth from his parents, Mr Bloomfield has never been taught about oral health or supported to maintain it, even while living in a group home.
‘Hidden’ suffering as people with disabilities wait years for treatment
Despite experiencing greater levels of oral disease, many Australians with disabilities struggle to access dental healthcare.
In a 2018 Australian Bureau of Statistics survey, almost a third of people with disabilities reported delaying or skipping a dentist visit due to cost.
“It’s easy going to the doctors … it’s different going to a dentist where you could be out of pocket $300 in one session,” Mr Bloomfield says.