National has promised to spend an additional $30 million a year on a children's dental programme the party says will improve kids' oral health.

The scheme would mean every New Zealand child would get a fresh toothbrush and toothpaste every year and more money would be pumped into paediatric and school dental service in schools.

National is calling the policy MySmile and builds on New Zealand's current policy of free dental care for children under 18 years old.

But National leader Judith Collins said the existing children's dental policy is underfunded and not comprehensive.

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"There are currently 120,000 Kiwi kids on dental waiting lists. We will provide the resources to ensure children most at need can get the access to quality dental care they deserve," she said in Whanganui today.

The promised $30 million a year would take the Government's current annual youth dental budget up to $130 million a year.

The additional funding would pay for every child in New Zealand to get a yearly dental pack, containing oral health information and a toothbrush and toothpaste.

It would also cover the cost of a nation-wide oral health education programme as well as providing funding for free targeted topical dental fluoride, in line with the Ministry of Health recommendation.

Collins said National expects the policy to save money in the long run.

According to the party's calculations, every $1 spent on children's oral health now will save $5 down the road.

"National believes that everyone should have the opportunity to access world-class healthcare regardless of income, background or postcode," the party's health spokesman Shane Reti said.

National leader Judith Collins and Dr Shane Reti. Photo / Warren Buckland, Hawke's Bay Today.
National leader Judith Collins and Dr Shane Reti. Photo / Warren Buckland, Hawke's Bay Today.

"We're giving children who might have otherwise missed out an opportunity for quality dental care."

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MySmile is based on the Scottish Childsmile programme, which was introduced in the early 2000s.

The results of that policy have been broadly successful.

In 2008, pre-Childsmile, 42 per cent of 5-year-olds had tooth decay in Scotland.

But by 2014, that number had declined to 32 per cent and the average number of decayed, missing or filled teeth for 5-year-olds had declined from 1.9 to 1.3.

National's scheme would be opt-out – meaning parents will have the ability to say if they don't want their children to participate.

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