For dental care we are (almost) on our own – apart from CCDHB programs for young people up to the age of 18. Dentists are not treated as doctors. There is no direct financial assistance for visiting a dentist or having remedial work undertaken.

Major dental work for crowns and bridges etc can cost thousands of dollars – which many people cannot afford. So they continue life with bad teeth.

CCDHB does operate a dental health service at Wellington and Keneperu hospitals – some specialist treatment and comprehensive dental care for patients who are “mentally, physically or intellectually compromised”.

There is also a “low income service” for those holding a community services card. However, only a limited number of appointments are available. Waiting times of up to 4 months are advised on the CCDHB website.

Part payment is required for almost all treatments.

While we have plenty of evidence of young persons with rotten teeth and cavities, due often to their intake of sugar, combined with poor parenting, one bright spot is free dental care for young people to age 18 under the Bee Healthy Regional Dental Servicei- a community-based dental service providing free (publically-funded) dental care for children in the Greater Wellington Region (Wellington, Hutt Valley and Kapiti Coast). However it is not clear what percentage of young people are actually enrolled in this program.

The Government needs to take the issue of dental health more seriously and step up with additional funding.

From : David Shand Observations and