Kiwis Need Access to Dental Care

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Fraser Clarke

New Zealand’s medical association has called for all Kiwis to be given access to ‘comprehensive and affordable dental care’.

Currently only children in the country are eligible for free dental care, and with treatment costs potentially rising into the thousands of dollars that leaves many New Zealanders living with daily chronic pain.

It is hospitals who are seeing the biggest impact of this, with many reporting a sharp rise in the number of patients attending emergency departments for tooth extractions and other dental issues.

Chairwoman of the NZ Medical Association, Dr Kate Baddock, highlighted just how serious she believes the issue is becoming. She said: “Dental decay remains the most prevalent chronic, yet reversible, disease in New Zealand.

“While children have access to free dental care this is an issue for all age groups including older New Zealanders, and cost is a major barrier.

“Maori and Pasifika groups have worse oral health outcomes as well as those living in areas of higher socio-economic deprivation, and this equity issue must be addressed.”

Tackling the issue will come at a sizeable cost however, with almost $200m already spent annually on oral health care for young people in the country. As a result Health Minister David Clark has revealed that, despite the huge issues, little will be done before the 2020 election to target New Zealand’s serious problems.

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