Ensuring Kiwi kids most at need can access quality dental care


Through our policy Tamariki Niho Ora - MySmile, National will ensure that all children in New Zealand have true access to good oral health.

We will increase funding for childhood dental services by 30 per cent. You can read about our Tamariki Niho Ora - MySmile policy here.

National will:

  • Invest an additional $30 million per year in our childhood oral health programme

  • Increase resources for paediatric and school dental services to ensure all children have appropriate access to high quality dental care

  • Introduce a comprehensive programme to improve paediatric and child oral health

New Zealand has free dental care for children up to age 18. But too often this system is not comprehensive especially for the formative pre-school, primary school and intermediate years. The system is not performing well with New Zealand children having poor oral outcomes. There are currently 120,000 kids on the dental waiting lists.

National will provide the resources to ensure that Kiwi kids most at need can access quality dental care.

We will introduce a comprehensive programme for pre-school, primary schools and intermediates initially in high need areas to improve child oral health from ages 3 to 13 modelled on Scotland’s Childsmile programme which includes:

  • All children provided with an annual dental health pack containing information material, a toothbrush and toothpaste for daily tooth brushing.

  • Oral health education programme.

  • Funding a free fluoride varnish.

Oral health is a key part of general health and it involves much more than a nice smile. It affects the way we chew, eat, smile, speak and can influence our overall wellbeing.

There are currently substantial disparities in dental care access across New Zealand and in low socioeconomic groups children’s dental decay rates remain high.

Poor oral health is preventable. To tackle the broader issues of oral health for children, a focus on oral health prevention and promotion is necessary.

National will invest in our kids. We will increase the resources to paediatric and school dental services and introduce a comprehensive programme to improve child oral health in New Zealand.

Investment in Tamariki Niho Ora - MySmile is part of National’s Social Investment approach. By providing a targeted intervention in childhood we can provide lifelong benefits to our kid’s health.

This investment will also provide savings to future individuals and taxpayers as they will require fewer expensive dental procedures. It is also expected to save money in the long term with a cost benefit analysis as high as 5.0 indicating that for every $1 spent there will be $5 in benefit.

Currently $100 million is spent on childhood dental services. We will increase that by 30 per cent.

National will fund free targeted topical dental fluoride in line with the Ministry of Health recommendation.

You can read about our Tamariki Niho Ora - MySmile policy here.