The average price of dental treatment in Australia has risen to nearly $6,000 in 2017, up 6.5 per cent from a year ago.
The rise in prices comes after a decade of declining prices.
In 2015, the average cost of dental care was $4,600.
But in 2017 it rose to $5,900.
The rising cost of care has been a drag on the economy and dentists are also struggling to attract qualified staff.
Dentists are paying $12.25 per hour more than they did in the past, according to the latest data.
Some of the cost increases are due to the introduction of new products and devices, but dentists have also been forced to increase their staffing levels.
Dr Peter Barnes from the Australian Dental Association says the cost of dentistry has increased by over a third in the last 10 years.
“The dentists I’ve worked with have all been doing their best to manage that cost, but it’s going to continue to grow,” he said.
Dentists are seeing increasing demand from people who have never had dental work before.
“I see people coming into the practice with a few hundred dollars’ worth of dental work and then they come in and ask me, ‘Are you going to be able to fill it?’ and I’m like, ‘No, you’re not’,” he said, adding that he was not sure that many dentists would continue to work as they were not used to filling larger amounts of patients.
Some dentists say they are struggling to recruit enough staff.
“The more I do this, the more people come in,” Mr Barnes said.
“People are coming into dentistry, they’ve just never had it before.”
If I can find someone who is willing to do that work, I’m happy to do it.
“In the meantime, dentists said that they were struggling to maintain dental standards in the face of rising demand.
The dentist who was quoted this week, Dr Steven Peltier, said he was being told that patients were paying about $600 more a year than they used to.
If he can find a dentist who can fill that, he said he would do it.
In a statement, the National Dental Council said the average price for dental care had been rising since the mid-1990s, but had slowed down from 2000-02, 2000-01, 2000, and 2001-02.
They said that the increase in the cost over the past decade had been driven by the introduction and rapid expansion of a number of new technology and technology-enabled treatments.
It said that while there was still a long way to go before dentists were paid enough to maintain their standards, the dental profession was not in a position to stop rising prices.