Young, Hip and…Toothless?
Free Dental Care for Under 18s
Meet Mikayla. She’s five-years old. She also has three fillings. Does that shock you? It should, but the trouble is, that has become the norm for New Zealand children. It’s so bad that New Zealand ranks among the worst offenders when it comes to oral health among it’s under 18 year-olds.
Let me put it another way. There are approximately 195 countries in the world. The children in 192 of them - including third-world countries with a GDP per capita, in some cases, less than NZ$700 plus change - have better teeth than ours.
But why is dental disease such a problem in a first-world country like New Zealand?
There are a number of factors; lack of parental training and overseeing their children’s twice daily teeth brushing routine, sugar-laden fizzy drinks and snacks available at schools, never mind everywhere else, bad oral hygiene habits as well as poverty and poor diets are all contributing factors. It’s a sad fact, but there are some people in New Zealand whose poverty level is so desperate, buying toothpaste is beyond the budget, never mind a toothbrush for each member of the family.
Is there any good news?
Yes! This is a reversible trend. Better diets, schools with ‘water-only’ policies, and the fact that in New Zealand, dental care for the under-18s is covered for free by the District Health Board (DHB) and that schools in New Zealand have free school dental clinics.
While not all of the Team Dental practices register regular DHB patients, all of them do provide some form of free service to children.
Here’s What Team Dental Offers New Zealand’s Under-18 Year-olds
- Patient Registration
Our surgeries in Papanui, Papamoa, Greerton and Whangarei register 13 - 18 year-old DHB patients. These young people may get seen by our dental therapists, or a dentist depending on their need. Children aged between 2 and 13 are usually seen by their school dental service.
Because most high schools don’t have a school dental clinic, 13 – 18 year olds go either to a hospital or a private dentist for treatment. The District Health Board covers these costs.
- Emergency Services
We offer emergency services for all children. If your child has an accident we will treat them. Once treated they can be seen by their regular dentist whether that’s at a school dental clinic or a private practice. We provide immediate pain relief until the child can be seen by their registered dentist. All emergency treatment is covered by ACC. Children should see their regular dentist for non-emergency treatment.
Most of the queries we get from parents concern adult teeth arriving before their child’s baby ones have fallen out, their child’s teeth becoming discoloured or the struggles they endure trying to get their children to brush their teeth.
A quick note here: your 4 year-old isn’t capable of brushing their own teeth. You need to supervise and in most cases assist.
It’s important your child is registered with a dental health care professional. If you’re looking for one, why not Call Team Dental today and set up an appointment to chat through your child’s dental needs.