ZB

Kerre Woodham: Are subsidised dental visits on your budget wish list?

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Wed, 18 May 2022, 12:26pm
Photo / stock.xchng
Photo / stock.xchng

Kerre Woodham: Are subsidised dental visits on your budget wish list?

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Wed, 18 May 2022, 12:26pm

We can take it as a given, can we not, that dental health is part of your overall health and well-being. 

Besides the pain of rotten or broken teeth, you're also predisposed to a range of other health ailments. Poor oral health can impair your general health and well-being by creating or exacerbating health conditions such as heart and lung disease, and stroke.

There's a direct correlation.

Also, your dental health can exacerbate social anxiety and depression. If you've got a mouthful of gappy teeth, you don't smile as much, you’re less inclined to speak up, you become very self-conscious and you hide yourself away.

And that's for the adults.

When we look at the state of oral health among our children, it's absolutely appalling. In 2019, more than 40 percent of 5-year-olds in New Zealand had tooth decay. Ministry of Health Data showed the number of zero to 14-year-olds requiring general anaesthetic for rotten teeth removal increased from 4500 to 7500 between 2001 and 2016.

The latest Newshub poll asked whether people thought the Government should subsidise dental visits, in the way we subsidise doctor visits.  83.7 percent of people who were polled said yes, the Government should subsidise trips to the dentist.

There are hopes this will be addressed on Thursday's Budget. Labour promised in the 2020 election campaign there would be money available for more emergency dental grants, but surely, it’s better to have a comprehensive cradle to grave dental health plan that fits in with an overall health plan for New Zealand citizens.

There are so many people living in pain, not living their best lives, not achieving all they could do because they cannot afford to go to the dentist.

Do you believe that this is something that you would prioritise as a taxpayer?  It's our money that's being distributed. Should it be a key plank in our physical well-being budget that trips to the dentist are subsidised by taxpayers?