Almost 50 per cent of Kiwi adults don't go to a dentist. What's going on?

December 12, 2017 at 8:49 AM

Almost 30,000 children had teeth removed in the year to December 2016. The same year, 6600 kids were hospitalised with rotten teeth.

While those figures are shocking, almost of the adult population doesn't even go to get dental check-ups due to the cost.

Former prime minister Helen Clark is pushing for free dental care for adults, too. In a recent social media post, Clark wrote: "I am increasingly concerned about the deterioration in New Zealanders' dental health.

"We read shocking stories about the state of children's teeth, but there are also many adults who cannot afford regular dental hygiene appointments and basic treatment who end up with serious problems."

HOW DOES OUR DENTAL CARE SYSTEM FOR ADULTS WORK?

National Clinical Director for oral health, Riana Clarke, said basic dental care for children and adolescents up to their 18th birthday was fully funded by the Government.

Emergency dental care for relief of pain and treatment of infection for low income adults was funded through district health boards and was usually subject to patient co-payments. 

"Dental treatment required due to accidents is funded by the Accident Compensation Corporation. Work and Income New Zealand provides special needs grants or loans for urgent dental treatment for low-income adults," she said. 

New Zealand Dental Association chief executive Dr David Crum said: "In terms of where dental care is delivered for adults in New Zealand, it's a high-quality service model that is delivered through private practice by dentists and beyond that, there's very little other service provision.

"Some of the district health boards - well most - will run to some varying degree relief of pain or emergency treatment so it's limited in terms of low-income adults to those two aspects.

"In its entirety, it's private practice delivery, really.

"The evidence in terms of outcomes is that there has been a dramatic improvement in the last 20 years. In terms of dental health - and in fact in some ages groups - we have seen a lifetime decay experience halve."

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Dental services in New Zealand hospitals: The number of publicly funded procedures by gender and age group to the year ended June 2014. FIGURE NZ

Crum said there was still a large sector of New Zealand that only attended a dentist in private practice when they saw a need.

"They don't attend for routine check-ups. They use their dentist like doctors when something's not right or it hurts."

"So perhaps 40 per cent of the population haven't seen a dentist in the last year or two years."

"You're getting a large group of people who are seeing a dentist when they have got problems rather than doing the recall and check-up, and amongst that group there are a significant number [for whom] the cost is a barrier."

Head of Preventative and Restorative Dentistry at the University of Otago, Associate Professor Jonathan Broadbent, echoed that.

He said emergency dental care funding for adults was "the ambulance at the bottom off the cliff".

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New Zealand hospitalisations for dental cavities: The number of publicly funded patients discharged by district health board of residence to the year ended June 2014. FIGURE NZ

 

Because of that system [of funding] for emergencies only, it results in people delaying care until [any issues] become so serious they can get it addressed."

Summing up, Crum said system worked well, but there was a sector of New Zealand who were not attending and for whom the cost barrier was significant.

HOW EFFECTIVE IS IT? 

The 2009 Oral Health Survey found dental decay was the most prevalent chronic - and irreversible - disease in the country.

One in three adults had untreated coronal decay and one in ten had root decay. A quarter had experienced trauma to one or more of their upper six front teeth.

"There was clear evidence of need for dental care among adults, with nearly half of feeling they currently needed dental treatment. In the past year, nearly half of all adults had avoided dental care due to cost and one in four adults had gone without recommended routine dental treatment due to cost," a summary of the survey said.

Over half (55.3 per cent) of all adults reported feeling they did not see a dental professional often enough, with the highest prevalence among 18–34-year-olds (about 70 per cent). One in two adults (45.9 per cent) felt they currently needed dental treatment.

About 44.1 per of adults had avoided dental care due to cost in the last year, and 25.3 per cent had gone without recommended routine dental treatment in the past year due to cost.

However, the oral health of New Zealanders had improved over time, the survey said.

"The prevalence of total tooth loss has decreased dramatically among New Zealand adults since 1976, and adults are retaining more of their natural teeth into older age."

Further, the survey said: "Trends show that a far smaller proportion of people were missing one or more teeth due to pathology in 2009 than in 1988, with prevalences almost halving among 20 - 24-year-olds and 35 - 44-year-olds.

"There has been a dramatic decrease in the prevalence of edentulism (toothlessness), with particularly large reductions among 35 - 44-year-olds (12.8 to 1.7 per cent) and 65 - 74-year-olds (61.6 to 29.6 per cent).

HOW MUCH WOULD FREE DENTAL CARE FOR ADULTS COST?

"If you wanted to make dentistry free for everybody, that's $800 million to a billion a year," Crum said.

The Ministry of Health hadn't costed providing universal dental care, it said.

In comparison, the MOH said dental care for 18 and unders cost about $144m per year, excluding GST.

Emergency dental care for low-income adults with Community Services Cards cost $8.5m and hospital dental services, $46m, excluding GST.

Broadbent said if free dental care were to suddenly be provided for adults, there would be a capacity issue.

There simply wouldn't be enough dentists to do all of the work.

Crum said making it free wouldn't necessarily increase attendance.

"When we talk about making it free, it is free for children and adolescents and yet, in that adolescent group, one third don't attend.

"A lot of it is a mix of priority and cost and personal attitude towards health."

Clarke, when asked what stood in the way of providing free dental care to adults, said: "The current focus for publicly funded oral health treatment is on the oral health of children and adolescents.  

"Evidence indicates that oral health status at age five predicts oral health status at age 26. Facilitating and supporting good oral health from an early age helps set people up for life and thereby reduces the likelihood of needing costly dental care in later years."

Health Minster David Clark said free dental care for families in need was "the direction we need to head in". However, budget constraints would limit that.

At a senior doctors' and dentists' conference last week, the health minister was asked if he would consider an affordable, accessible primary care dental service for vulnerable and low-income adults.

Clark said he "fundamentally" agreed, but funds were limited.

More affordable access to dental care would mean changes to the workforce as well, he said.

He also wanted more advice about working towards that goal. 

A DIFFERENT WAY TO FUND

Broadbent said he was in favour of taxing unhealthy products to help pay for dental care.

"If our dental care became free for everybody there would be a capacity issue. There would not be enough dentists to provide cover," he said.

"If you are making an argument that we should publicly fund dental care then it makes sense to tax the unhealthy behaviour that contributes to risk for dental issues."

That included smoking - which caused gum disease - and sugar - which caused tooth decay.

Broadbent also suggested extending the care provided to adolescents to people in their early 20s and people on low incomes.

Rates of dental decay were high among people in their 20s and cost was listed as a factor preventing low income earners from visiting a dentist, Broadbent said.

Clark's comments in her Facebook post were similar to Broadbent's. 

"One way ahead would be to build on what is available to beneficiaries and to extend that to adults in families receiving Working for Families payments," she wrote.

Broadbent pointed out that most dental care was a form of surgery. That was why it was expensive.

WHAT SHOULD WE BE FIXING HERE?

Crum said regardless of other issues, better access to dental care was a priority for the association.

"But at the moment, that's still taking the perspective of fixing things that are broken rather than preventing disease in the first place.

"Our main priorities have been, for some time, community water fluoridation and the reduction of sugar. We can give better accesss to care for everybody but it the disease is not prevented in the first place we're wasting our time and huge sums of money.

"Our next priority is to think about and look forward to what is available for treating the elderly. We've got a growing population who are entering their old age with their teeth heavily filled, needing constant maintenance and repair.

"So that my generation, that's what we are facing in huges numbers, where as my childrens generation, when they come through, will have very little dental work that needs to be maintained because there is a large proportion of kids that don't have any fillings.

"So it's preventive, the elderly, and access for low income adults.

"To be fair, I think we're getting some real traction on the water fluoridation and sugar."

LET'S NOT FORGET A LOT OF THIS IS PREVENTABLE

Crum said "I think, in these sort of debates, we forget that this [dental decay and gum disease] is almost completely preventable... with a bit of self responsibility. 

"We are talking about high costs and people can't afford dentistry but what it takes is a toothbrush, fluoride toothpaste and minimising sugar. That sort of gets lost in the discussion.

"Then where do you prioritise it with the rest of the health spend when you have things like cancer ... that are perhaps not as preventable.

"I don't think this is heading down the track of free care for everybody. I think where it needs to go is really targeted and consistent subsidy for low-income adults and it can only be delivered in private practice, because that's where the workforce is. It's also the only vehicle of delivery where there is a dentist in every community."

"If every community had water fluoridation we'd see a reduction of 40 per cent of dental decay. Think of the money that would save, rather than trying to provide free care to fix the problem."

Fluoridation would cost about 80 cents per person per year, he said.

Clark said in her Facebook post the issue was broader than treatment.

"Prevention must encompass looking at the damage done by excessive sugar consumption and the Government acting to curb that, as is happening in other countries."

- Leith Huffadine, Stuff

"You're getting a large group of people who are seeing a dentist when they have got problems rather than doing the recall and check-up, and amongst that group there are a significant number [for whom] the cost is a barrier."

Head of Preventative and Restorative Dentistry at the University of Otago, Associate Professor Jonathan Broadbent, echoed that.

He said emergency dental care funding for adults was "the ambulance at the bottom off the cliff".

New Zealand hospitalisations for dental cavities: The number of publicly funded patients discharged by district health ...
FIGURE NZ

New Zealand hospitalisations for dental cavities: The number of publicly funded patients discharged by district health board of residence to the year ended June 2014.

"Because of that system [of funding] for emergencies only, it results in people delaying care until [any issues] become so serious they can get it addressed."

Summing up, Crum said system worked well, but there was a sector of New Zealand who were not attending and for whom the cost barrier was significant.

HOW EFFECTIVE IS IT? 

The 2009 Oral Health Survey found dental decay was the most prevalent chronic - and irreversible - disease in the country.

One in three adults had untreated coronal decay and one in ten had root decay. A quarter had experienced trauma to one or more of their upper six front teeth.

"There was clear evidence of need for dental care among adults, with nearly half of feeling they currently needed dental treatment. In the past year, nearly half of all adults had avoided dental care due to cost and one in four adults had gone without recommended routine dental treatment due to cost," a summary of the survey said.

Over half (55.3 per cent) of all adults reported feeling they did not see a dental professional often enough, with the highest prevalence among 18–34-year-olds (about 70 per cent). One in two adults (45.9 per cent) felt they currently needed dental treatment. 

I hear very concerning reports of those who end up with very serious dental problems because they cannot afford regular checkups and small problems end up as big ones. Surely  could be more helpful? A stitch in time saves nine. Etc.

About 44.1 per of adults had avoided dental care due to cost in the last year, and 25.3 per cent had gone without recommended routine dental treatment in the past year due to cost.

However, the oral health of New Zealanders had improved over time, the survey said.

"The prevalence of total tooth loss has decreased dramatically among New Zealand adults since 1976, and adults are retaining more of their natural teeth into older age."

Further, the survey said: "Trends show that a far smaller proportion of people were missing one or more teeth due to pathology in 2009 than in 1988, with prevalences almost halving among 20 - 24-year-olds and 35 - 44-year-olds.

"There has been a dramatic decrease in the prevalence of edentulism (toothlessness), with particularly large reductions among 35 - 44-year-olds (12.8 to 1.7 per cent) and 65 - 74-year-olds (61.6 to 29.6 per cent).

HOW MUCH WOULD FREE DENTAL CARE FOR ADULTS COST?

"If you wanted to make dentistry free for everybody, that's $800 million to a billion a year," Crum said.

The Ministry of Health hadn't costed providing universal dental care, it said.

In comparison, the MOH said dental care for 18 and unders cost about $144m per year, excluding GST.

Emergency dental care for low-income adults with Community Services Cards cost $8.5m and hospital dental services, $46m, excluding GST.

In  " health is being treated like a luxury" says @otago Assoc Prof Jonathan Broadbent, who calls for alternative ways of covering costs. Survey shows that half population put off dental care because of cost. This needs 2 be addressed https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/dental-expert-says-care-in-nz-treated-like-luxury-calls-funding-overhaul 

Broadbent said if free dental care were to suddenly be provided for adults, there would be a capacity issue.

There simply wouldn't be enough dentists to do all of the work.

Crum said making it free wouldn't necessarily increase attendance.

"When we talk about making it free, it is free for children and adolescents and yet, in that adolescent group, one third don't attend.

"A lot of it is a mix of priority and cost and personal attitude towards health."

Clarke, when asked what stood in the way of providing free dental care to adults, said: "The current focus for publicly funded oral health treatment is on the oral health of children and adolescents.  

"Evidence indicates that oral health status at age five predicts oral health status at age 26. Facilitating and supporting good oral health from an early age helps set people up for life and thereby reduces the likelihood of needing costly dental care in later years."

We extended free care to all under 18 years old. Next steps now could be to review & build on existing WINZ entitlements, including by giving full & accurate information to beneficiaries. Similar provision could also be made 4 Working for Families recipients, & low income workers

Health Minster David Clark said free dental care for families in need was "the direction we need to head in". However, budget constraints would limit that.

At a senior doctors' and dentists' conference last week, the health minister was asked if he would consider an affordable, accessible primary care dental service for vulnerable and low-income adults.

Clark said he "fundamentally" agreed, but funds were limited.

More affordable access to dental care would mean changes to the workforce as well, he said.

He also wanted more advice about working towards that goal. 

A DIFFERENT WAY TO FUND

Broadbent said he was in favour of taxing unhealthy products to help pay for dental care.

"If our dental care became free for everybody there would be a capacity issue. There would not be enough dentists to provide cover," he said.

"If you are making an argument that we should publicly fund dental care then it makes sense to tax the unhealthy behaviour that contributes to risk for dental issues."

That included smoking - which caused gum disease - and sugar - which caused tooth decay.

Broadbent also suggested extending the care provided to adolescents to people in their early 20s and people on low incomes.

Rates of dental decay were high among people in their 20s and cost was listed as a factor preventing low income earners from visiting a dentist, Broadbent said.

Clark's comments in her Facebook post were similar to Broadbent's. 

"One way ahead would be to build on what is available to beneficiaries and to extend that to adults in families receiving Working for Families payments," she wrote.

Broadbent pointed out that most dental care was a form of surgery. That was why it was expensive.

WHAT SHOULD WE BE FIXING HERE?

Crum said regardless of other issues, better access to dental care was a priority for the association.

"But at the moment, that's still taking the perspective of fixing things that are broken rather than preventing disease in the first place.

"Our main priorities have been, for some time, community water fluoridation and the reduction of sugar. We can give better accesss to care for everybody but it the disease is not prevented in the first place we're wasting our time and huge sums of money.

"Our next priority is to think about and look forward to what is available for treating the elderly. We've got a growing population who are entering their old age with their teeth heavily filled, needing constant maintenance and repair.

"So that my generation, that's what we are facing in huges numbers, where as my childrens generation, when they come through, will have very little dental work that needs to be maintained because there is a large proportion of kids that don't have any fillings.

"So it's preventive, the elderly, and access for low income adults.

"To be fair, I think we're getting some real traction on the water fluoridation and sugar."

LET'S NOT FORGET A LOT OF THIS IS PREVENTABLE

Crum said "I think, in these sort of debates, we forget that this [dental decay and gum disease] is almost completely preventable... with a bit of self responsibility. 

"We are talking about high costs and people can't afford dentistry but what it takes is a toothbrush, fluoride toothpaste and minimising sugar. That sort of gets lost in the discussion.

"Then where do you prioritise it with the rest of the health spend when you have things like cancer ... that are perhaps not as preventable.

"I don't think this is heading down the track of free care for everybody. I think where it needs to go is really targeted and consistent subsidy for low-income adults and it can only be delivered in private practice, because that's where the workforce is. It's also the only vehicle of delivery where there is a dentist in every community."

"If every community had water fluoridation we'd see a reduction of 40 per cent of dental decay. Think of the money that would save, rather than trying to provide free care to fix the problem."

Fluoridation would cost about 80 cents per person per year, he said.

Clark said in her Facebook post the issue was broader than treatment.

"Prevention must encompass looking at the damage done by excessive sugar consumption and the Government acting to curb that, as is happening in other countries."

 - Stuff

Comments

 

10 days ago
igb
Haven't been for 20 years. Never had any problems.
12 days ago
odiecatgreen
I was one of the kids that in the 70's 'had to have fillings', They were at the time meant to 'help' but it was just a quota system done by dental nurses (they didn't understand teeth's indents were part of chewing/grinding process, thought teeth all had to be flat & smooth) and now those fillings are falling out, have ruined my teeth and I have to pay for what was forced on me.  My kids now have no fillings done like that & only if necessary (3 boy & about 5/6 fillings between them, medically caused).  I can't afford to get my teeth fixed or even have a check up, other things come first like food, bills, clothing etc.....!! :(
12 days ago
Craig D
The only way to reduce the private cost of dentistry significantly is to increase competition and for the dentists to earn less.  The best way to do this is to produce less NZ graduates and import dentists from poor nations who will work for less and are more sales/marketing orientated. Without subsidy/co-payment all private treatment feels too expensive, but heavily subsidised / free treatment in countries like the UK is prone to major issues of under-treatment and poor quality and people not valuing their dental health as they know the fix will be free.  I would favor a system where the government provided a universal income/tax credit toward certain private services (e.g.dental, optician etc) which if unused would be banked into kiwisaver.
13 days ago
buzzybnz
What can be forgotten is that there are times when, no matter what self care you do, there will be problems. I have been using inhalers for asthma for most of my life and it's only in the last 10 years they've started saying to use spacers. For most of my life it was to rinse my mouth EVERY time I used it but that isn't always easy. There are also a lot of medications that leech calcium out of your teeth and bones. I am working part time as well as being on a partial Supported Living Payment. Much of the work I need done isn't considered urgent enough for a grant from WINZ.
13 days ago
TGlacier
What's going on??? Unless you are a tourist or from another planet, everyone knows why!  BECAUSE IT'S TOO EXPENSIVE, THE COSTS ARE OVER THE TOP, THAT'S  WHAT GOING ON!!! $1000 DENTAL COSTS FOR 2 ADULTS, BUT WE, FAMILY OF 4, HAVE TO EAT TOO, YOU KNOW!  
13 days ago
wozza53
the expense is why private health societies dont cover dental care.
13 days ago
wozza53
dental charges here are a disgrace and a bloody RIPOFF!!! that includes the cost of having dentures. and not only that but the bloody dentures dont fit, they come out when you eat, they cut into your gums, they make you lisp, food gets under them and you cannot chew normally. then the ripoff dentist will try and convince you to save some teeth and just get partial dentures just so they can get ongoing maintenance money out of you. RIPOFF!!
13 days ago
baza0
I visited both dental surgery's in my town this morning,  neither can see me until next year for my urgent problem.  This is a busy time of year apparently.
13 days ago
zyofeng
It's overpriced. Simple.One of the reasons is artificially capped number of dentists education institutions put on.
13 days ago
Doctor mike
Not much will change whilst sugar laden soda is cheaper than milk but a tax on these drinks would help fund dental treatment and reduce future decay.  Broadbent (2016) stated that sugar was the cause of dental decay. Notably, indigent Maoris on their ancestral diet and drinking fluoride-deficient river and rain water had no dental decay. It is also time to dismiss the much touted 40 percent decay reduction. This was an inappropriately extrapolated finding taken from the 2009 Sapere Oral Health Survey relating to a small group of deprived rural children when compared to an urban school. In contrast, the 2015 Health Dept. Oral health statistics released in March 2017 that involved over 90,000 children confirmed a 1 filling difference in the 5 and 8 year old cohorts between those with or without fluoridated water. Dental decay is not prevented by fluoride and a single teabag of Bells or Choysa black tea provides as much fluoride as 1 L of  fluoridated water for anyone who wants it. 
13 days ago
Lavenderblue
It is far too expensive I agree but we can help look after our teeth well too and minimise dental bills.
My 2 daughters have beautiful teeth...never had a single filling ever and their ages are 45 and 47yrs 
During most of their growing up years we didn’t have fluoridated water where we lived so I gave them an F tablet each day until we moved to a fluoridated area .. we have always used fluoride toothpaste and they flossed and brushed their teeth at least twice a day as we taught them to do.
Actually I think having fluoride in the toothpaste is probably even better than having it in the water but having it both ways should be effective in improving and maintaining the strength of our teeth.
Our local dentist always remarks that as a family we would put him out of business !!
We never put sugar on cereal or into hot drinks...very rarely buy soft drinks and I wouldn’t even know where to find a sugar bowl as we never have sugar on the table..in fact if visitors come and want sugar in their tea or coffee I have to get the big container out of the cupboard where I keep the baking stuff !! 
I am not trying to preach or skite but quite honestly, a very good diet low in sugar, good dental hygiene and using fluoride toothpaste must have a positive effect on keeping teeth strong,healthy and lasting.
Ps...the only fillings I ever had were from the dental nurse who I was absolutely terrified of and I used to vomit with fear on my way to the dental clinic...and every one of my classmates were just as terrified too and would arrive at the clinic in tears before they had even been sent into her room ....same as for me...my brother used to have nightmares about her.
She was hideous and used a foot controlled drill and if you cried she made the drill go slower.. double pain....won’t name her even though I would like to but she was a dental nurse at Remuera primary in the 50’s and 60’s. 
Because of her I decided I would really look after my teeth so that I would never have to go through what I did with her at a dentist appt.in the future and thankfully I have never had to.
BTW..I saw her death notice in the HERALD A few years ago and she was being highly praised by the School Dental Service for the great job she did...like hell she did a good job...she drilled and filled with reckless abandon and ruined the teeth of hundreds of young children and caused untold mental anguish and fear of the dentist !!!
13 days ago
pacifica
We did our research and found not only was the dentist in Thailand more professional, higher qualifications (from a NZ, US trusted accreditation provider), better customer care, actually included patient consent & options, but that the price was still less than a NZ dentist even when including airfares, accommodation, treatment, and check ups. Plus alongside patient information about the procedure, options etc they also provided us full details, casts, scans and medical data to take back. This was for three wisdom teeth extracted (at different orientations), 2 root canals, capping, etc. A NZ dentist tried to do even a plate and it was so shoddy and archaic the teeth on it broke in a few months. Another left sharp glue stuck to the back of teeth from a faulty brace removal. NZ has such poor quality services and training we likely will go on another trip to Thailand for future work to fix up the NZ dentists mistakes. We still have to save up for dental work but at least the dentist overseas has better quality work that does not need to be repaired in a few months from a botch up NZ job.
13 days ago
n.rolls
as someone said this is a poorly written article or the dentists they spoke to for prices are lying like flatfish $5000 for one replacement tooth is what i was quoted at the  dental center in nae nae as i need two and a cap it came to 11,800 dollars any idea why i might still need them lol  and nearly everyone i know now goes to India or Thailand to get there teeth done i wonder why a holiday and treatment and a full set of veneers and they still have change from $5000 lmao we are ripped on everything in nz and i will change my vote to national next elections, change yeah right!!! there all the same.
13 days ago
Michael Wichman
it's far too expensive
13 days ago
GENGHIS7777
If we lifted the lid on how many dentists could graduate every year, then you would drop treatment costs every year too as we increase supply.  The industry keeps numbers down to keep fees up.  

Survey figures look about 20% too low.  I recently shopped around in Christchurch and cheapest was $220 for a filling.  For most families, that is a week's groceries.  Tough if you're just breaking even.  

Most of my friends say:  Let them eat cake.  Make them budget better.  They're smoking serves them right.  Make them work 90 hours a week instead of 70.  Shouldn't have had so many children.  Maybe they shouldn't have been born.  Stupid for letting the breadwinner die without life insurance.  

Head in the sand thinking, all.  
13 days ago
Shakie
My local dental practice (in a not-well-to-do suburb, which had charged quite reasonable rates) was taken over by a dentist who didn't do the clean and polish side of things. You paid about $95 for a quick check-up and then were supposed to see the hygienist for the scale & polish, costing another $100. II'd have thought the scale & polish was very basic dental care.
 Needless to say I moved to another practice where I pay about $95 for a check-up AND scale & polish. Some dentists are just rip-off merchants..
13 days ago
JPC
This shouldn't be just given to those on benefits or low-incomes. My salary is only an average salary within NZ (low in comparison to living costs and the rest of the world) even as a professional with a degree and experience. It's just pay tax for everyone else. I pay a small fortune for insurance to look after my teeth the best I can. I don't own a new car and cannot afford to get on the housing ladder either. But a bill for several hundred/thousand each year still hurts the pocket. It always seems to be either the rich (CEO's/directors and the like) or beneficiaries that benefit. What about a bit of basic assistance for those workers in the middle for a change?
13 days ago
NuffSaid
I had a $10,000 quote from my dentist to have all my work done. I went overseas and got the lot done for $1700. I also had a 5 week holiday while I was there and the entire trip, dentist and all was less than $9k. That was three years ago, never had an issue since.
13 days ago
Naynayburger
My teeth are in great condition and I get them cleaned twice a year. For a yearly checkup and two cleanings per year I pay close to $500 per year. And I don’t actually get anything done. Not a filling or anything.
13 days ago
slacker
Maybe doesn't need to be free, but at least heavily subsidised. 

I was told $400 just to get a tooth yanked out, or $1500 for a root canal that may or may not even save the tooth.
13 days ago
Simonsaid21
Poverty of parenting and their caregivers should be charged with neglect. Does there need to be massive state intervention again ?
13 days ago
kc20
I was quoted around $1300 for a Zirconia crown, Happen to go to India for a visit, so got the same Crown done there for $200.. :)
13 days ago
Pulsatingbrain
What's going on? I'd have thought it was as plain as day. Going to the dentist is too blinking expensive! THAT'S what's going on.
13 days ago
SB64
Best thing I did was go to Thailand for dental work. 5 gold crowns, 2 root canals, 10 fillings, 1 extraction, orthodontic surgery (sinus lift) and an implant (ceramic coated gold). NZ$14,500 plus about $5,000 in air fares for 3 trips. Rough quote to get it done in NZ - around $45,000+ ... That was more than 7 years ago now, and I've only had trouble with one tooth - and that had been stuffed up by a NZ dentist before I went to Thailand. Oh - and my dentist - Masters in Dentistry, from Boston.
13 days ago
A. Paul
I went to the dentists about 3yrs ago – cost about $600 all up. Walked out the door, nek minit, half a tooth fell out – haven’t been back since :–( 
13 days ago
3gok
Not sure where the figures come from. I paid much more than the upper amounts written and that was a suburban family dental clinic. I don't think this is a good article if no one acknowledges what people really have to pay.
13 days ago
spragja
But I thought the fluoride in the water supply would solve our dental problems??
13 days ago
EASTERN
When sugar intake is more than water what do you think happens
13 days ago
NuffSaid
I don’t drink tap water and use fluoride free tooth paste. Nothing wrong with my choppers.
12 days ago
spragja
Exactly! Nothing wrong with European teeth either.. Now why do we need fluoride again?
13 days ago
k1w1
Best thing I did was have my teeth out at around 21, and falsies in 6-months later.  Now, nearly sixty years later, I have spent less than $50 on teeth repairs and my original plates are still working, albeit a bit worn. Although these days false teeth, like white goods, are only designed to last a few years, or even till just after warranty expires.
13 days ago
Timbuck2
Yeah at least a 150 bucks for a check up and you wonder why people don't go? Ivory tower much?
13 days ago
brimb
If we can give tourists free hospital services then it is time we looked after our own people and make dentistry free, or even subsidised. The cost of everything in this once great country is astronomical compared to other similar countries.
13 days ago
Charles
Never a truer word said. In relation to average incomes, almost everything costs more here than it does in other developed countries. That said, New Zealander's poor dental heath is to a large degree the product of high sugar intakes and poor oral hygiene practices.
13 days ago
buzzybnz
I have always thought that more needs to be done in getting payment from international visitors. If this happened maybe we could fund 6 monthly checks for adults.
13 days ago
aniT
Dental care is a horrific price and dentists seem to think every tooth needs a "crown"  or "root canal" at $1000+.  Every time I go I have to save another 1-2 years before I can afford to go again!
13 days ago
Be noice
The problem is getting the time and money to go
13 days ago
MrsMcA
Have you had to pay a dentists bill lately?
13 days ago
BadgerPower
We struggle to see the dentist based on cost. We just manage to pay our regular bills, but dental check ups are put off because we can’t afford them, which exacerbates problems. Free or subsidised dental care seems like a dream!
13 days ago
averagekiwi66
I would love to visit the dentist more often but it’s just to expensive.
13 days ago
Justakiwig
ha!!! The prices for dental work in this article are hilarious - how about triple those and u get about the correct price. Having dental work done is like take out a 2nd mortgage - overseas it is!!!!
13 days ago
MrsMcA
Ha! Yes, I was going to say, they must have seen me coming when I got a tooth capped a couple of years ago. Triple those prices.
13 days ago
Peter37
Just been 10 min check up and clean 95 dollars Timaru. Not a bad hr rate!!
13 days ago
Turtledove
Even with 2 incomes coming into our house, we can't afford a dentist.  And its never just one visit.  Why you have to go have the xrays, THEN another appointment for the clean/scale or filling just smacks of revenue gathering to me - and its inconvenient for full time workers.  In the last 10 or so years the only time i have been is when my tooth broke.  Luckily I brush daily so have good teeth anyway.  I would say for most, like us, paying mortgages, groceries, power, etc take precedent these days.
13 days ago
buzzybnz
There are also those of us that care for our teeth but, for others reasons (i.e. medications or genetics), still need alot of work dobe
13 days ago
Shazz1
I want recently. 300 odd for a 15 minute appointment! My husband the same. And he has to go back for two fillings at 300 each! It’s not a poor mans game.
13 days ago
MattyWgtn
When it costs $500 to get a filling, and $250 odd to get a tooth pulled, can you blame them?! The amount that it costs to fix teeth is astounding. And not in a good way. It needs to either be subsidised or have the costs lowered
13 days ago
knightrider1
Dentist is really only for the well off  
13 days ago
callagd
From my experience, it's just too expensive. I had to see the hygienist for a clean and polish and that alone cost over $200, let alone actually getting any work done.
13 days ago
Dave G
There is a very simple reason why adults  don't visit, IT IS TOO EXPENSIVE
13 days ago
shona
Didnt read the article just the headline.  I cant afford to go to the dentist, plain and simple, I work fulltime and raise two kids, i am not entitled to any WINZ support with dental costs and i can not afford to go.  All my money goes on raising my kids, my health comes last.
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"You're getting a large group of people who are seeing a dentist when they have got problems rather than doing the recall and check-up, and amongst that group there are a significant number [for whom] the cost is a barrier."

Head of Preventative and Restorative Dentistry at the University of Otago, Associate Professor Jonathan Broadbent, echoed that.

He said emergency dental care funding for adults was "the ambulance at the bottom off the cliff".