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Leading Dental Advocacy Group Welcomes Green Party Universal Dental Policy

A campaign group that has been building public support for universal dental has welcomed the Green Party's proposal for universal free dental care, which was announced today.

Dental for All, a coalition of groups including health professionals and unions and anti-poverty campaigners, is now calling for other political parties to bring dental into the public healthcare system.

"Bringing dental into our public healthcare system is long overdue, and it's a policy backed by an overwhelming majority of New Zealanders," says Brooke Pao Stanley, spokesperson for Dental for All.

A poll conducted in March this year by the union for senior doctors and dentists found that 74% of people in New Zealand support funding dental care for adults in the same way as it is funded for children and adolescents, who receive dental care for free.

Support for universal dental in that poll was strong across the political spectrum, with 77% of Labour and Green supporters backing universal dental, as well as 73% of National and ACT voters.

"Cost is a major barrier for people getting dental care, because of the way dental is carved out of our public healthcare system, and the result is that people are forced to do DIY dental that risks their own health, or they face mountains of debt and stress simply to receive essential healthcare that we should all be getting," adds Pao Stanley.

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The same poll commissioned by Talbot Mills in March showed that 72% of people delayed visiting the dentist because of cost in the last year.

"We now encourage other political parties to support universal, Te Tiriti o Waitangi-consistent dental care this election, since making this service universal is the best way to build public buy-in and to ensure we raise the floor of services that we all have access to," states Pao Stanley.

Dental for All is made up of leading dentists supportive of universal dentists (including Te Ao Mārama Aotearoa Māori Dental Association), unions including the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, and anti-poverty groups such as Auckland Action Against Poverty.

  • A petition launched by Dental for All in March 2023 now has over 16,500 signatures.
  • More background on the polling conducted in March 2023 by Talbot Mills can be found here
  • Dental for All also backed a report published by ASMS in 2022, Tooth be Told, which showed that as of 2020 New Zealand had the highest level of unmet dental need among 11 comparable countries.

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