The supply of dentists (including dental specialists) grew from 46.6 to 50.3 full-time equivalent practising dentists per 100,000 population between 2000 and 2006. In 2006 there were an estimated 10,400 practising dentists in Australia, of whom 1,300 were dental specialists. There were an additional 3,100 allied dental practitioners comprising of dental hygienists, dental therapists, and oral health therapists, nearly all of whom were women. Almost 90% of the estimated 900 practising dental prosthetists in 2006 were men.
In 2006, there were 1,171 dental therapists, 674 dental hygienists and 371 oral health therapists practising in Australia. The oral health practitioner workforce was overwhelmingly female, with 98.8% of dental therapists, 96.7% of hygienists and 94.8% of oral health therapists being female. Dental therapists were the oldest group among the oral health labour force, with an average age of 42.9 years.
Between 2006 and 2025 the number of oral health therapists practising in Australia is expected to increase from 371 to 2,117. Dental hygienist numbers are also expected to increase (from 674 to 1,458), while dental therapist numbers are projected to decrease (from 1,171 to 443). Overall, the number of oral health practitioners per 100,000 population is expected to increase from 10.8 to 16.2 by 2025.