A 42-year-old Wagga man who has had chronic dental health pain since childhood says a publicly funded universal scheme for dental care would help him with the basics in life.
Brian Mcminn has about 75 per cent of his teeth removed after nearly one year of waiting.
He has waited another 13 months so far for further treatment to the rest of his teeth.
"It seems like I need to win Lotto or something," Mr Mcminn said.
"It [dental problems] affects your whole life.
"When you're going to the pub to have a beer, at home eating, but it really hits your self-respect more than anything.
"People think you're a junkie."
The 42-year-old said the waiting list also impacts his mental health.
"It's the waiting that kills you, so it would be really good to have more dentists," he said.
"It takes a lot of courage to go to an appointment, so when it gets knocked back, it's really hard to get it going again," he said.
Proposal to overhaul dental treatment
Mr Mcminn's call for better dental care comes around the same time Independent think-tank Grattan Institute published a report calling on the government to adopt Medicare-funded dental scheme.
The report said that in the past year, about the two million Australians required dental care but did not receive it or delayed it because of the cost.
The institute's proposal states that most spending on dental care comes straight out of patients' pockets, with the poor and disadvantaged most likely to miss out on care.
The scheme is estimated to cost an extra $5.6 billion a year that could be paid for in part by a rise in the Medicare levy and phased in over 10 years.
Elizabeth Warlow, lecturer of oral health at CSU Wagga, said she welcomed the proposal despite it being long overdue.
"Oral health is proven to have a link to overall systemic health," Ms Warlow said.
"Medicare assists the population to look after the body and mind, so a dental subsidy like the Medicare model would allow oral health to be maintained as well.
"It is apparent that a significant number of families struggle to afford dental care, with many people not presenting to a clinic until there is a problem or they experience pain.
"Lack of dental care accounts for millions of dollars in lost revenue per year for businesses as staff are forced to take time away from work with avoidable pain."
Ms Warlow said the it was crucial to ensure universal oral care to avoid other health complications.
"We already know that there is significant links and risks associated with poor oral health and pre-term low-birth weight babies, diabetes, heart disease and even mental health as self-esteem can affect people gaining employment and enjoying social aspects of life," she said.
Current publicly funded dental treatment may be accessed via the Child Dental Benefits Scheme, healthcare cards and pensioner concession cards.
However, Grattan Institute's health program director Stephen Duckett said that existing public dental schemes "are inadequate, uncoordinated, and inequitable across states and territories".
"There's no compelling medical, economic, legal or logical reason to treat the mouth so differently from the rest of the body," he said.
"Bad oral health has painful and costly consequences ... [it] can contribute to other health problems, including diabetes and heart disease."
Mr Duckett said the scheme needs a road map, starting with the federal government taking over funding of existing public dental schemes.
"Fund them properly to the tune of an extra $1.1 billion per year and enable private-sector providers to deliver publicly-funded care," he said.
"Universal dental care is a big idea whose time has come.
"All Australians should be able to get the care they need, when they need it, without financial barriers."