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Kiwis find dental care a pain in the wallet

71% of New Zealanders say they put off going to the dentist purely because of the cost.

Further, results from a September TNS survey commissioned by Southern Cross show that only 31% of us go to the dentist each year and the majority only go when there is an issue.

Other key findings from the survey show:

• 16% don’t like going to the dentist
• 14% don’t feel like they need to go
• 5% don’t have time to go to the dentist
• 31% go once or twice a year
• 40% go only when they have an issue
• 14% said they never went

Peter Tynan, Southern Cross Health Society Chief Executive, says, “It’s easy to begrudge paying out for a dental check or filling – and it can be an easy item to fall off your priority list when money is tight. However, like any health condition, neglecting oral health means you run the risk of developing further problems and this leads to even higher costs.

According to the Ministry of Health’s 2009 New Zealand Oral Health Survey, dental decay remains the most prevalent chronic (and reversible) disease in New Zealand. In 2009 one in three adults had untreated coronal decay and one in ten had root decay.

What’s more, Tynan says the Ministry of Health survey shows that dental problems have an indirect cost to society, with one in ten adults aged 18–64 years taking an average of 2.1 days off work or school in the previous year due to problems with their teeth or mouth.

“Some people bury their head in the sand and take a fingers-crossed approach to their dental health. Perhaps a better tactic would be to invest in an examination to understand what work you need done.
Then you can work with the dentist to determine which procedures should be carried out first, second and so on.”

Each year the New Zealand Dental Association conducts a survey[1] on the average fees charged for a variety of dental treatments. In 2013 the average fee for an examination and x-rays was $99, an amalgam filling $143 and a ceramic crown $1,338, although there is some pricing variation between dentists.

Given this, Tynan says those on a tight budget could shop around for the best deal for them.

In a regional twist, the TNS survey showed that males living in Wellington and Dunedin females are the most likely to go to the dentist once a year (37%) while just 12% of Hamilton males make this trip.
A quarter of males living in Christchurch reported never going.


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