Dental care doesn't come cheap but one Whanganui dentist has decided to challenge that perception opening a new surgery in what is widely regarded as the city's poorest suburb.

Hadleigh Reid. who runs Victoria Dental, is transforming the old Castlecliff Post Office with two dental surgeries and the first of those was open for business yesterday.

Dr Reid bought Victoria Dental 10 years ago and says while he always wanted to provide the best dental care with the best equipment, working overseas in a voluntary capacity changed his world view.

He and two dental assistants worked with a team on the medical ship Pacific Hope, providing emergency dental treatment in Vanuatu.


"After treating people with different means, needs and expectations, I've realised there is a need for a more affordable 'no frills' treatment option here so that is what we're doing at Cliff Dental," he said.

Hadleigh Reid opens a new dental surgery at 1a Cross St, Castlecliff. Video By Stuart Munro

"We aim to provide the most affordable basic dental care for the Castlecliff community and Whanganui generally."

Dr Reid said Cliff Dental will be essentially non-profit, with any profit going back into the practice and the community.

It will be run separate from Victoria Dental with one surgeon - Dr Snehal Shah - helped by a dental assistant Pam Hiroti and administrative staff.

"There are a lot of different communities in Whanganui and all of them have different needs and means. I just wanted to help out those who find dentistry expensive," he said.

"We're aiming for a good 20-30 per cent discount for Community Services cardholders. It's about providing them with more bang for their buck."

The new clinic was promoted on Facebook and he said the response had been "great".

"We had a free dental day here a week or so back run through the NZ Dental Association and created great interest. We had about 50 patients come through."

Initially the clinic will open two or three days a week.

"We don't need to profit from this. What we're aiming to do is for it to be self-sustaining, to pay its way. This is not about getting anything out of this.

"I'm really enthusiastic about getting this up and running and feel it will help make dentistry a lot more accessible to those who need it," Dr Reid said.