Dentists are running a clinic on the forecourt of Parliament to highlight the need for better dental care for low-income and vulnerable New Zealanders.

Dental Association president Katie Ayers, who is on the forecourt, told Morning Report they've invited politicians to come over to have their teeth checked out too, and they'll be expecting some to come for a chat later today.

"There's no debate that oral health is an essential component of general health, there's no debate that we have unacceptable inequalities in access to care in oral health status, but the problem we have is just that funding is not coming through to enable us to help the people who need it the most."

Some people have lined up for emergency dental treatment at the clinic.


A report from last year, commissioned by NZDA, proposed some solutions for the Government to enhance oral healthcare access for low-income adults. Another dental care report in 2018, from the Ministry of Health, was sent to the minister at the time.

Ayers said it was hard to understand why oral health was not high on the priority of funding.

"We've come up with some ideas of how the Government could address these issues, with some quick wins and some longer-term goals, we just really want them to listen and take action."

Although Ayers acknowledges costs can be high for patients, she said the sector had been doing work with charities and providing free oral health days throughout the country.

"But what we need is something more sustainable and long-term so that on the day someone has a problem they can turn up to the dentist and have a solution."