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Smile Haus staff and Dentist, Wynton Perrott, in Havelock North will participate in Smile NZ on Friday 7 November for community members who need help accessing dental care. 

Perrott opened Smile Haus in August with his wife and the practice's hygenist, Rachel. Together with assistant Laine and receptionist Kate, they decided to open their practice to those in need of better access to dental care for the day. Perrott explained he "hopes to help people with barriers in getting dental care. The free dental care day will be a positive step in opening access to people who find it difficult to get access to oral care".

The Southern Cross Health Trust and the New Zealand Dental Association (NZDA) are playing tooth fairy for low income adults around New Zealand through the initive.

But instead of rewarding for lost teeth - they’re helping people keep theirs.

This month Smile NZ will provide free dental care to low income adults who require but cannot afford treatment. This is part of their commitment to offer free care for up to 1500 low income adults.

The free dental work will take place at 19 practices across ten regions between 6 - 14 November - a fitting start date considering November 6 is our National Oral Health Day.

Terry Moore, Southern Cross Health Trust CEO, says the uptake of the initiative in May showed there are a lot of people living with long-term dental problems.

"We ran this in May for the first time and quickly ran out of places which shows that a lot of New Zealanders cannot afford basic dental care.

"Unlike our public health system, dentistry isn't a subsidised service for adults, which means a lot of people cannot afford to maintain their teeth and live in constant pain from untreated decay or disease. These are the people we want Smile NZ to help."

NZDA CEO David Crum said the Association applauded the dentists who volunteered their time, and welcomed any collaboration which would further provide at-risk people with necessary treatment.

"While some DHBs and government agencies offer emergency dental work or help with pain relief, a lot of people don’t meet their DHB’s criteria and are not in the financial position to help themselves.

"Initiatives like Smile NZ provide some relief for people who really need it, and otherwise would be forced to live in discomfort and pain," says Crum.

Smile NZ free clinic days are made known through General Practitioners in lower socioeconomic areas, social workers, Red Cross and other community agencies such as WINZ, night shelters and food banks, who are in contact with high need and vulnerable people.

Each patient will receive one dental treatment consisting of basic but essential dental care which could range from a filling, extraction, relief of pain or sorting an infection to preventative care such as fluoride applications or a scale and polish. Patients will also receive oral health education and a free hygiene pack.

Important note:

The Southern Cross Health Trust is the owner of Southern Cross Hospitals, Southern Cross Travel Insurance and Southern Cross Pet Insurance. Though they share the same brand, the Southern Cross Health Trust and its businesses are separately owned and operated from the Southern Cross Health Society (New Zealand’s largest health insurer). No Southern Cross Health Society funds were used for the free dentistry initiative.

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