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Reasons To Smile: Free Dental Treatment For Hundreds Of New Zealanders Who Need It Most

Smile NZ Free Dental Days (Smile NZ), a programme which provides free dental treatment to low-income New Zealanders, is back on this year, after the 2021 programme was cut short due to Covid-19.

In its eighth year, Smile NZ will run from 27 September to 7 October 2022, with 60 dentists from 39 dental practices nationwide volunteering their time to the programme.

Smile NZ is a joint initiative between the Southern Cross Health Trust and the New Zealand Dental Association (NZDA), where dentists open their practices to provide a range of treatments such as restorations, fillings and extractions at no charge to patients who ordinarily cannot afford to access treatment.

Southern Cross’ recently released Healthy Futures report reveals 60 per cent of New Zealanders find cost the biggest deterrent to receiving dental care. Of those who experience dental pain, 19 per cent do not seek treatment.

NZDA Chief Executive Dr Mo Amso said after Covid-19 caused the suspension of the 2021 programme, the NZDA was again looking forward to helping low-income New Zealanders access dental care they greatly need.

“It is great to be back this year after our programme was cut short last year. Once again, our dentists will generously donate hundreds of hours of their time to help those who would not otherwise be able to get treatment. This year we have 60 dentists participating in the initiative.”

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Smile NZ has proven to be a great success to date. Around 6,000 people have already benefited through treatment over the seven years the programme has been running, with around 700 people expected to receive treatment this year.

Southern Cross Health Trust Chief Executive, Chris White, said the Smile NZ Free Dental Days charitable initiative aimed to make quality dental care accessible for New Zealanders who need it the most.

“Southern Cross is proud to support this charitable activity through the Southern Cross Health Trust. We’ve already seen this initiative make a significant difference to the lives of thousands of New Zealanders and we’re looking forward to helping even more people with their dental health and wellbeing.”

The Southern Cross Health Trust funds dental practices for the use of premises, equipment and dental assistants.

Patients also receive oral health education and a free hygiene pack.

Reasons to smile:

· Over 700 people will receive free dental treatment this year

· As a result of this year’s Smile NZ, more than 6,300 people will have received free dental treatment over eight years

· This year 39 dental practices and 60 dentists are donating their time

· Smile NZ is funded by the Southern Cross Health Trust, a charitable trust and part of the Southern Cross group of health and wellness businesses.

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