To: House of Representatives

Introduce universal free dental care

Introduce universal free dental care

Universal free dental care is an ambitious goal that the Ministry of health should strive towards. We ask the Ministry of Health to remove barriers to good oral health, starting with these concrete steps:

1. Subsidise dental care for communities that need it most;
2. Increase the age for access to free dental care to age 20;
3. Remove GST from dental services.

Why is this important?

Many people can’t afford dental check ups, or are put off going to the dentist because of the costs associated with treatment.

Dentists are finding tooth conditions associated with countries with much higher levels of poverty than New Zealand, because dental care is expensive for so many of us.[1]

The last national dental survey found that about half of New Zealand's population had put off dental treatment they knew they needed because of the cost.[2,3]

Dental care is understandably a highly regulated industry and the costs of running a dental clinic are therefore very high. There are also not enough dentists in some regions.

It can cost a lot just to get a checkup, putting people off from getting regular review of the health of their teeth.

Basic dental services are provided up until 18 - ending at a crucial time when young people are leaving home and are financially constrained.

Dental care can take second place to more urgent living costs when under financial stress,
putting off care until more serious problems occur. If dental problems are taken care of early it can save a lot more money later on.

Left untreated, dental infections can spread leading to serious and sometimes life threatening illnesses that require hospitalisation. Poor oral health has also been linked to conditions like heart disease and diabetes which financially burden the health care system.

Further, poor oral health is associated with poorer self-reported quality of life and negatively impacts on employment prospects. A Ministry of Health survey shows that dental problems have an indirect cost to society, with one in ten adults aged 18–64 years taking an average of 2.1 days off work or school in the previous year due to problems with their teeth or mouth.[4]

An affordable and accessible dental care service would catch health problems before they become too serious, reduce barriers to good health for our whole population and reducing later health costs. In the meantime there are specific steps that can be taken to improve access to dental care now.

To begin with we can take concrete steps to remove cost barriers to good dental care -
1. Subsidise dental care for at-need communities;
2. Age for access to free dental care increased to 20;
3. Remove GST from dental services.

Sign now to ask the new Minister of Health David Clark to take these concrete steps for better access to dental care for everyone.

1 - Making dental care affordable to those who need it most should be a priority – dentist, 20/11/17
2 - Former Prime Minister Helen Clark
3 - "Dental decay remains the most prevalent chronic (and irreversible) disease in New Zealand"
4 - Smile NZ to provide free dental care for low income Kiwis
5 - Helen Clark calls for Govt to implement free dental care, 17/1117
6 - Dental expert says dental care in NZ treated like 'luxury', calls for funding overhaul 20/11/17

How it will be delivered

In person to the Minister of Health David Clark.

Reasons for signing

  • Kiwis should not be bankrupted because they need a wisdom tooth extracted
  • Dental health care is not accessible for all people. It is very expensive and that immediately makes it only possible for those on high incomes. Poor dental health is very evident and leads to illhealth and greater suffering. Its time access to dental care is seriously reviewed by the government and made available for everyone. Jim Anderton was a great advocate for this
  • I worked in the health area for many years and I have been shocked at the state of dental dis-ease in a huge number of people. I have attempted to negotiate with dentists to treat people for a cheaper rate then what they could afford. Their response was to speak with WINZ which is pathetic and inhumane.


2017-11-23 16:59:25 +1300

1,000 signatures reached

2017-11-21 13:52:09 +1300

500 signatures reached

2017-11-20 14:35:32 +1300

100 signatures reached

2017-11-20 12:03:21 +1300

50 signatures reached

2017-11-20 11:26:51 +1300

25 signatures reached

2017-11-20 11:02:45 +1300

10 signatures reached