Who is entitled to free dental visits?
Children and young people (aged 17 years or under) can receive free dental checks and standard treatments (e.g. x-rays, cleaning, fillings, extraction) if:
- they are enrolled in the Community Oral Health Service, and
- their oral health provider (e.g. dentist) has a contract with the local District Health Board (DHB).
You can enrol your child by calling Let's Talk Teeth on 0800 825 583. They will send you forms to complete.
If your child is a pre-schooler or at primary school, you need to give them to your local Community Oral Health Service. If your child is in year 9 or above, you can choose your dentist, so just give the completed forms to the dentist of your choice who is contracted to your DHB.
Not all dental treatments under this scheme will be free – you’ll need to pay for braces, for example.
In some DHB areas adults with a Community Services Card (CSC) can receive free or subsidised emergency (e.g. pain relief or extractions) and basic dental care at a hospital dental department. If you have a CSC you can call your local public hospital to check whether this is available to you.
Adults with disabilities or medical conditions (e.g. mouth cancer) could ask their usual dentist or GP for a referral to a hospital for dental treatment.
If you need dental treatment as a result of an accident or injury, your costs may be covered or partially covered by ACC (there’s general information about ACC elsewhere on our website).
In most cases adults have to pay for their dental treatment – charges can vary widely amongst dental practices so it’s well worth ringing around to find one whose services you can better afford.
If you are on a low income you may be eligible for financial assistance from Work and Income. There is more information about help with dental costs from Work and Income on our Other financial assistance page.
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How can I access my dental records?
Your dental records form part of your health information, which is covered by the Health Information Privacy Code. This means that you have the right to access records of your dental treatment.
Unless giving the information would endanger your safety, prevent the investigation of criminal offences or involve an unwarranted breach of someone else’s privacy, the agency (e.g. doctor, dentist, ACC) holding your information should give it to you.
If you want a copy of your dental records then you will need to ask your dentist or dental treatment provider, either in person or in writing, and they have to respond within 20 working days. It is not enough to just call them because they will need proof of who you are.
If you are refused access to your dental records and you aren’t satisfied with their reason, or if they don’t respond to your request within 20 working days, you can make a complaint to the Privacy Commissioner.
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How do I make a complaint about my dentist?
It is best to speak to them first and try to sort the issue out between the two of you. If you can't resolve it between you, you can complain to:
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How do I find a dentist who speaks my language?
If there is a dentist near you who speaks your language, your local CAB can help you find them. You can also search our community directory. If you’re seeing a dentist in a hospital, ask if they have an interpreting service available.