Basic dental services are free until you’re 18. If you need dental care after 18, and you’re on a low income or have a disability, illness or injury, you can apply for government help.
What help you can get
The help you can get from the government with dental care and dentures depends on your personal situation.
If you’re under 18
Your local Te Whatu Ora health service pays for basic dental services until you or your child turn 18. Most New Zealand children will be automatically enrolled when they’re born.
If you have not received a letter or information pack about your child’s teeth by their first birthday, enrol them by calling 0800 Talk Teeth (0800 825 583). You’ll go through to a local organisation that looks after children’s dental health and they’ll guide you through what you need to know and do. A child’s first checkup should be before their second birthday.
Free services include:
- regular checkups
- preventative treatments like fluoride or fissure sealants
- fillings and extractions.
You’ll need to pay for orthodontic treatments, like braces to straighten teeth. But children with special medical needs, such as cleft palates, can get free treatment.
If you are 65 years or older
Your SuperGold Card can get you discounts from some businesses providing dentures. Ask your dentist if they offer discounts for people with a SuperGold Card.
If you’re a veteran
If you have a service-related injury or illness, and you are not covered already by the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) or the Ministry of Health, you may be able to get help from Veterans’ Affairs with dental treatments.
Contact Veterans’ Affairs to talk to a case manager about what you need.
If you have a disability or illness
Hospital dental services are available for people with physical or intellectual disabilities that mean they cannot see a private dentist for an illness, such as head or neck cancer, where dental treatment is part of the overall treatment.
If this situation applies to you, you’ll be referred by your doctor, dentist or a dental therapist.
The work is done in a hospital. It’s free if you have to be admitted but there are some charges if you have treatment as an outpatient.
If you have any questions about this, talk to the doctor or dentist who referred you. Otherwise you can call your local health service.
If you've had an injury or accident
If you need dental care because of an injury or accident, Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) covers some of your dental treatment costs.
ACC also pays some of the cost to fix or replace dentures if you were wearing them when you had your injury or accident.
You’ll need to see your dentist as soon as possible. Together you’ll fill out a claim form and send it to ACC.
In most cases your dentist treats you on the first visit and charges you part of their normal fee. ACC pays the rest of the cost.
If you need immediate and essential dental treatment
If you have a dental emergency, like needing a tooth removed, but cannot afford it, you can apply for financial help for immediate and essential dental treatment.
If you need help with dentures, you can apply to Work and Income for help paying for them.
If you have a Community Services Card, you can use it to reduce the cost of dental treatment in emergency situations if the dentist has a contract with Te Whatu Ora.
Emergency dental treatment is free if you’re already in hospital. There are charges, however, if you have treatment as an outpatient or when the emergency treatment is done by a dentist who has a contract with Te Whatu Ora.
If you have any questions about getting financial help for immediate and essential dental treatment, contact your local health service.
If you have a Community Services Card
If you have a Community Services Card, you may be able to get dental treatment through your local hospital. Talk to your doctor or dentist, about this.
If you cannot get government help
You’ll have to pay for dental care, treatments or dentures yourself. Some dentists let you pay in instalments to help spread the cost.