Reasons to smile: Free dental care for hundreds of New Zealanders who need it most


Smile NZ Free Dental Days (Smile NZ), a program that provides free dental care to low-income New Zealanders, is back this year, after the 2021 program was halted due to Covid-19.

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

Smile NZ is a joint initiative of 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 free of charge to patients who do not usually cannot afford to access treatment.

Southern Cross’ recently published A healthy future A report reveals that 60% of New Zealanders consider cost to be the biggest barrier to getting dental care. Among those who suffer from dental pain, 19% do not seek treatment.

NZDA chief executive Dr Mo Amso said after Covid-19 caused the 2021 program to be suspended, NZDA was once again eager to help low-income New Zealanders access dental care which they badly need.

“It’s great to be back this year after our program was cut short last year. Once again, our dentists will generously donate hundreds of hours of their time to help those who otherwise couldn’t This year, 60 dentists are taking part in the initiative.

Smile NZ has proven to be a great success so far. About 6,000 people have already received treatment during the seven years of the program, and about 700 people are expected to receive treatment this year.

Southern Cross Health Trust chief executive Chris White said the Smile NZ Free Dental Days charity initiative aims to make quality dental care accessible to New Zealanders who need it most.

“Southern Cross is proud to support this charitable activity through the Southern Cross Health Trust. We have already seen this initiative make a significant difference in the lives of thousands of New Zealanders and we look 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 kit.

Reasons to smile:

More than 700 people will receive free dental care this year

As a result of this year’s Smile NZ, over 6,300 people will have received free dental care for eight years

This year, 39 dental practices and 60 dentists donate their time

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

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