A tooth fairy for adults

Wednesday , 28 October 2015 by Aimee Bourke

Southern Cross Health Trust and the New Zealand Dental Association (NZDA) are playing tooth fairy for low income adults around New Zealand through an initiative called Smile NZ.

But instead of rewarding for lost teeth – they’re helping people keep theirs.

This month Smile NZ will provide free dental care to low income adults who require but cannot afford treatment. This is part of their commitment to offer free care for up to 1500 low income adults.

The free dental work will take place at 19 practices across ten regions between 6 - 14 November – a fitting start date considering November 6 is our National Oral Health Day.

Terry Moore, Southern Cross Health Trust CEO, says the uptake of the initiative in May showed there are a lot of people living with long-term dental problems.

“We ran this in May for the first time and quickly ran out of places which shows that a lot of New Zealanders cannot afford basic dental care.

“Unlike our public health system, dentistry isn't a subsidised service for adults, which means a lot of people cannot afford to maintain their teeth and live in constant pain from untreated decay or disease. These are the people we want Smile NZ to help.”

NZDA CEO David Crum said the Association applauded the dentists who volunteered their time, and welcomed any collaboration which would further provide at-risk people with necessary treatment.

“While some DHBs and government agencies offer emergency dental work or help with pain relief, a lot of people don’t meet their DHB’s criteria and are not in the financial position to help themselves.

“Initiatives like Smile NZ provide some relief for people who really need it, and otherwise would be forced to live in discomfort and pain,” says Crum.

Smile NZ free clinic days are made known through General Practitioners in lower socioeconomic areas, social workers, Red Cross and other community agencies such as WINZ, night shelters and food banks, who are in contact with high need and vulnerable people.

Each patient will receive one dental treatment consisting of basic but essential dental care which could range from a filling, extraction, relief of pain or sorting an infection to preventative care such as fluoride applications or a scale and polish. Patients will also receive oral health education and a free hygiene pack.

Important note:

The Southern Cross Health Trust is the owner of Southern Cross Hospitals, Southern Cross Travel Insurance and Southern Cross Pet Insurance. Though they share the same brand, the Southern Cross Health Trust and its businesses are separately owned and operated from the Southern Cross Health Society (New Zealand’s largest health insurer). No Southern Cross Health Society funds were used for the free dentistry initiative.

Locations of the dental practices are:

Northland - Ngati Hine Health Trust (Saturday 7 November)
Auckland - Avondale Dental Centre
White Smile Dental (Takapuna)
Dentist Onehunga
Mighty Mouth Mt Roskill (Friday 6, Saturday 7 November)
Hamilton - River Road Dental
Frankton Community Dental Clinic (Friday 6, Saturday 7 November)
Whakatane - East Bay Dental Centre (Saturday 7 November)
Hawke’s Bay - Smilehaus Dental (Friday 7 November)
Palmerston North - Broadway Dental Centre (Saturday 7th November)
Wellington - Naenae Dental Clinic (Saturday 14 November)
Blenheim - Beattie, Gilchrist and Associates
Durrheim & Associates (Friday 14 November)
Christchurch - Hornby Dental Centre
Bush Dental
Christchurch Charity Hospital
Fendalton Dental Surgery (Friday 6 November)
Dunedin - Dentistry on George Street (Saturday 7 November)
Invercargill - Waihopai School Dental Clinic (Saturday 7 November)