Finding affordable dental care in the big smoke can be like pulling teeth, driving many to head to the regions and smaller cities to get a cheaper deal.

While some Kiwis go overseas for cut-price treatment, travelling less than an hour north of Auckland to Warkworth could save you hundreds of dollars on your teeth.

The price of an uncomplicated tooth extraction at Symonds St Dental Care in Auckland's CBD starts at $250 whilst the same procedure at Warkworth Dental Practice is $175 maximum.

Merv Wilson, senior partner and dentist at the Warkworth practice, said 20 per cent of his patients came from out of town and were by and large Aucklanders.


"When people come for a tooth extraction, we wouldn't charge them for an X-Ray, consultation and those little things."

Wilson said many practices in cities like Auckland didn't have this leeway, meaning patients were "hit with consultation fees and God knows what else".

Practice owner of East Bay Dental in Whakatane, John Twaddle, says locals who move to Auckland are scared off by the prices at city dentists and "run back home" for dental work.

In one instance, Twaddle was approached by a 64-year-old man who had been quoted $64,000 for treatment at a dentist in one of Auckland's beachfront suburbs.

"They said he needed crowns on almost every tooth, which he probably didn' he came to me to see if this was correct.

"The maximum we could get the cost to was $24,000...for some crowns and two implants. That's a $40,000 difference."

Aucklanders are not alone.

Wellingtonian Anne Russell travelled to Dunedin in October to avoid the high prices associated with a root canal.

"I'm not joking when I say the flight and the dental care were cheaper than getting it done in Wellington," said Russell.

Russell said she paid about $70 each way for Jetstar flights and $10 for the procedure at Green Island Wellness Centre.

WINZ helped pay towards the cost of the treatment, something Russell said the Green Island centre always tried to offer.

According to their website, WINZ "may be able to help pay towards the cost of dental treatment, especially if it's urgent" for those on a low income or benefit.

"I haven't had any trouble with the work...I would definitely recommend people do it [travel for cheaper dental care]," said Russell.

Anne Russell travels from Wellington to Dunedin for affordable dental treatment. Photo / supplied
Anne Russell travels from Wellington to Dunedin for affordable dental treatment. Photo / supplied

According to Wilson, treatment in the regions is also cheaper as dentists will perform most procedures, because they cannot refer patients to a specialist "down the road".

"We don't have the expertise of specialists but we will do the straightforward things...This isn't the trend in the city, where they tend to send you to specialists...for even the basic work."

However Wilson said the competitive market in Auckland meant treatment could sometimes be cheaper through deals like GrabOne.

A dental examination at Hill Park East Tamaki in Auckland is currently going for $25 on GrabOne, or $69 including a clean, scale, polish and X-rays.

Each year, the New Zealand Dental Association conducts a survey to determine the average fee charged per procedure.

In 2015, the average fee for a basic extraction was $213 and between $689 and $1072 for a root canal.

Dr David Crum, chief executive of the association, said the fees charged by dentists reflected staff and rental costs.

"Rentals in Auckland are much higher, so the costs are quite different. A dentist in the CBD might pay five to six times the amount someone is paying in a suburb for example."

Dr Crum said there were no figures showing people were going rural for cheaper dental care.

"Occasionally you hear of people going back to their hometown to see their dentist."

The downside of approaching dentistry solely on price was that patients would end up "chopping and changing" dentists so there would be no regular care, said Dr Crum.

"You are better off seeing a dentist in your local community."

The cost of dental care:
Examination: $135 (new customer excl. X-Rays)
Hygienist: $140
Filling (white): $250 - $400
Root canal: From $1250

Examination: $79 (incl. X-Rays)
Hygienist: $118
Filling (white): $255 - $460
Root canal: $750 - $1500

Examination: $66 (new customer)
Hygienist: $102
Filling (white): From $196
Root canal: $700 - $1500

Examination: $89 (incl. X-Rays)
Hygienist: $160
Filling (white): From $150
Root canal: $400 - $1900

Examination: $99 (incl, X-Rays, scale and polish)
Filling (white): $129
Root canal: $482 - $734

Examination: $134 (incl X-Rays)
Hygienist: $137
Filling (white): $150 - $350
Root canal: $900 - $1100

Examination: $125 (incl. X-Rays)
Hygienist: $150
Filling (white): $140 - $250
Root canal: $670 - $1000