National announces $30m childhood dental services policy

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National is promising to spend an extra $30 million on improving dental services for children, including a free toothbrush, toothpaste and information pack each year.

Watch the announcement here:

Party leader Judith Collins, health spokesperson Shane Reti and National’s Whanganui MP Harete Hipango announced the MySmile Tamariki Niho Ora policy in Whanganui today.

The policy would include:

  • All children provided with an annual dental health pack containing information material, a toothbrush and toothpaste for daily tooth brushing
  • Oral health education programme
  • Funding a free fluoride varnish

National says the $30 million will increase funding for childhood dental services by 30 percent, up from $100m, and is expected to net five times the benefit compared to the cost.

The party says it would involve increased resources for paediatric and school dental services and an education drive.

“There are currently 120,000 Kiwi kids on dental waiting lists,” Collins says. “We will provide the resources to ensure children most at need can get the access to quality dental care they deserve.”

Dr Reti says all New Zealand children should have access to the resources they need to have good oral health.

“Regardless of income, background or postcode, we’re giving children who might have otherwise missed out an opportunity for quality dental care,” Dr Reti says.

The free dental healthcare pack was based on a model introduced in Scotland in the 2000s, where tooth decay in five-year-olds decreased from 42 percent of children in 2008 – before the programme – to 32 percent in 2014.

The party says families, schools and kindergartens will have the option to opt out of the policy.

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