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Miserly government mars children's smiles

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"We now have a public health system that has sunk so low it says poor kids don't deserve a smile," says Labour Health spokeswoman Annette King.

Ms King has learned the government is making school dental therapists ask some parents to pay for white fillings on their childrens' front teeth.

She heard today from a Te Puke mother who was told recently her daughter could have a silver amalgam filling on a permanent front tooth for free, but a white one would cost $10. Tauranga parents have also been asked to pay.

"Demanding co-payment for childrens' dental care is unheard-of and illegal in the school dental service" Ms King says.

"We're talking about visible fillings a child will have for life. Only a morally bankrupt health system would be set up to leave a black mark on a poor child's smile."

Children are entitled by law to free dental care from the School Dental Service. White tooth filler is also available free under the General Dental Benefits scheme.

"The explanation being offered to parents is that the School Dental Service is only able to offer a limited number of free white fillings before it has to start charging," says Ms King.

"Wyatt Creech has to front up and explain this one. Hiding behind the Health Funding Authority won't do."

"This is Third World dentistry and health care. Amalgam fillings haven't been put in front teeth since the 1950s."

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