High costs keeping young adults away from the dentist in New Zealand

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High costs are keeping young adults in New Zealand away from the dentist.

The most recent New Zealand Health Survey revealed that a high proportion of adults avoid going to the dentist due to cost. The price of care has put 44% of adults off going to the dentist, but cost is a particularly worrying issue for young adults, as more than 50% reported difficulties affording routine dental care.

The survey, which was conducted by the Ministry of Health, also found that 15% of adults have delayed going to the GP due to cost, and 7% have chosen not to buy prescription medication as a result of financial worries.

Dental care is provided free of charge for children in New Zealand, but dentists are worried that young adults are being priced out of attending regular appointments. Once patients start having to pay for care, the frequency with which they visit the dentist falls dramatically, and this puts young people at risk of decay and gum disease. People who are struggling to secure jobs and those at the beginning of their careers often don’t have enough money to afford dental checks and more complex courses of treatment, and this usually means that they avoid the dental surgery altogether.

The minister of health, David Clark, suggested that there was a “widespread unmet need for dental care among adults in New Zealand” and reviews are currently underway to establish whether there are better ways to subsidise dental treatment and provide more affordable dental care for adults of all ages.

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