Free Dental Care

New Zealand children are entitled to free basic oral health services from birth until their 18th birthday. It’s important to enrol your child as early as possible with the service, so you can arrange the first check-up. Your child’s first visit will usually be between six and nine months of age. Dental staff will let you know the time of your appointment once you enrol.
Free dental care is available for children aged 0 - 17 years old by the Community Oral Health Service.

It’s easy to enrol. Just call 0800 TALK TEETH (0800 825 583). We will guide you through it and send you the right forms for you to fill in. If your child is a preschooler, or at primary school, fill in the forms and post to your local oral health service.

If your child is in Year 9 or above, you can choose the dentist you would like to provide your child’s care.

To ensure this happens you need to:

  1. Choose a dental care provider from the list.
  2. Complete the Transfer to Adolescent Oral Health Service form
  3. Give the completed form to your current Dental Therapist before the end of Year 8 or your chosen dental practice.

Basic dental care is free until the young person has their 18th birthday.

Standard treatments

Standard treatments are free and include:

  • routine examination to check teeth for decay and look at the gums and mouth for any problems
  • X-rays to find tooth decay and other problems that can’t be seen
  • fluoride treatment helps make the surface of the teeth more resistant to decay
  • fissure sealants (a thin layer of white filling), painted onto teeth at risk of developing tooth decay
  • cleaning to remove plaque, staining and tartar from teeth
  • fillings are used to restore teeth affected by tooth decay
  • extractions to remove teeth badly affected by tooth decay.

Referral for extra treatments

If your child requires extra treatments, your dental therapist will refer you to an oral health service provider. Many treatments will still be free, but some you will need to pay. Orthodontic work such as braces is an example. 

Regular check-ups

Rather than waiting for teeth problems, take your child for regular check-ups. Your dental therapist or dentist will let you know how often you need to take your child.

Dental check-ups for young children enables problems to be recognised and treated early. Try to get an appointment for a time when your child is not tired, and always be positive about dental visits. Use positive language such as ‘keeping your teeth healthy’ and ‘keeping your smile beautiful’.

Information sourced from Ministry of Health Let's Talk Teeth website