10,000 signatures reached
To: The New Zealand Government
Make dental care free for all
We call on the Government to bring universal dental care into the public healthcare system to make it free for all.
Why is this important?
When our teeth and gums are looked after, our whole wellbeing is improved. Dental care means being able to share smiles with the people we love. It means being confident to connect socially and express ourselves.
But people in successive governments have chosen to treat mouth health differently to the rest of our bodies by excluding dental care from the public health system. It’s the only aspect of health where people and families are expected to pay the full cost in the private market. As a result, far too many of us are locked out of proper care for our teeth and gums. 42% of adults in Aotearoa can’t afford dental care. For Māori adults, it’s 54%, and for Pasifika adults it’s 52%.
Untreated dental needs can lead to broken and decayed teeth, gum disease, diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer's disease, and even potentially life-threatening situations. It leaves whānau living unnecessarily with pain, shame, disrupted sleep, knocks to their confidence and mental health, and affects our ability to pursue work, education, and community goals.
Bringing dental care into the public health system means everyone’s teeth and gums can be looked after. In Aotearoa, we choose to resource our public health services because we recognise that everyone deserves to be looked after. We already make sure children under 18 years old can access free dental care and it's time to extend that care to adults too.
No one should be turned away from healthcare because of their incomes. That principle of care should include mouth health too.
Now is the time for bold action that tangibly improves the lives of people in Aotearoa. Action that puts whānau wellbeing at the heart of our public services that are infrastructure of care.
1. Tooth be Told. Association of Salaried Medical Specialists. 2022: https://issuu.com/associationofsalariedmedicalspecialists/docs/asms220501-tooth_be_told
2. The Shocking State of Dental Care. North and South, March 2022: https://northandsouth.co.nz/2022/03/12/nz-dental-care/