Free dental care for low income Kiwis

Wednesday , 30 August 2017 by Janine Kendall

A healthy smile is important when it comes to first impressions so Southern Cross Health Trust and the New Zealand Dental Association (NZDA) have teamed up to offer low income adults free dental care.

The nationwide campaign — Smile NZ Free Dental Day — will run from 2-13 September with 27 dental practices from 16 regions consisting of 50 volunteer dentists donating their time.

People who hold a Community Services Card and have one urgent dental problem are eligible. They will be given a 30 to 40-minute appointment for a single dental treatment, and will receive oral health education and a free hygiene pack.

Treatments include fillings, restorations and extractions, fluoride applications and pain relief.

Terry Moore, Southern Cross Health Trust CEO, says this year Smile NZ is expected to help around 750 New Zealanders struggling to afford basic dental care.

“Research from Southern Cross showed more than half of Kiwis surveyed have put off going to the dentist and the main reason was cost,” he says.*

“Unlike the public health system, dentistry is not subsidised for adults so we hope this initiative will help relieve low income adults who are living with long-term dental problems”.

David Crum, CEO of the NZDA, says dental defects and pain can often have a negative effect on daily life, such as work, because of the appearance or odour of teeth.

“While some DHBs and WINZ offer help with emergency dental work or pain relief, a significant number of people aren’t getting the treatment they desperately need,” he says.

“Smile NZ has been running for two years now, with approximately 650 Kiwis receiving treatment last year. Spots are limited and have always filled quickly so we would encourage those who are eligible to make an appointment as soon as possible”.

Auckland dentist Kavendra Naidoo, who is hosting the free dental days at his practices in Papatoetoe, New Lynn, Milford and Drury for Smile NZ, says he was inspired by his late father’s work in the community and values of “care, trust and respect”.

“To be able to volunteer is an excellent way to get to know all types of people. It brings our team together as well because it’s rewarding to help others,” he says.

Bookings are essential so patients must call 0800 FREE SMILE/0800 373 376. Appointments will be available on a first-come first-served basis.


Additional information:

*A 2016 Southern Cross Health Trust survey of 2000 randomly selected New Zealanders showed:

  • 53% of people have put off a visit to the dentist
  • For those who don’t visit a dentist yearly the main reason (71%) was due to the cost
  • 34% only go to the dentist when they have a toothache or problem
  • 38% of Kiwis are unhappy with their teeth - with discolouration and missing teeth being the main reasons. 15% reported pain as the reason for their unhappiness.

Conducted by TNS, the online survey of 2000 randomly selected New Zealanders was carried out in June 2016.