New Zealand 2017 election affect dental costsSigh! the 2017 elections are over, and Winston has finally selected his bride, so can we move on please.

There is nothing more energizing when we meet a stranger than to be greeted with a beautiful Smile, one that extends ‘a warm welcome’ and says, ‘I live Life well’. However, it is a reality in New Zealand that at every level of the population spectrum, there are more people who need Oral care desperately than those that don’t need it. Money does buy great oral care, only just. The main driver is education and policy.

The National Party were focussed for 9 years on getting ‘the country’ out of debt and making everyone feel good that we were paying our way, building highways and bridges, yet, the common man on the ground was struggling with poor wages, enormous personal debt and poor housing, desperately trying to put food on the table and get into a first home.

The Labour Party, Greens and NZ First, focussed internally on personal debt, housing, the minimum wage and our environment. These are laudable goals to achieve but how do we as a nation ‘get there’ if the country cannot work cohesively to accept that each one of us must reach out and share the load. Do we as dentists, really care about the state of our children’s mouths? Is the NextGen an inconvenience in the clinic?

Quizzing people on why they don’t seek early dental care is not about poverty or access. It is all about education and understanding the true impact of oral health – or lack of. Little weight is given to the fact that inflamed gum harbour anaerobic bacteria that start travelling in the body, bite the heart, kidneys, and joints. Infertility and related issues are linked to gum disease. Does our government recognize this?

Most people believe that one must be in extreme pain to seek a dentist’s help, and a quick extraction is the easiest way out of an inconvenience, yet, gum disease (like diabetes) does not cause pain. It causes bleeding, bad breath and makes your close friends very uncomfortable. But as all of this is occurring, the bacteria are headed for the heart, joints and internal organs.

So, what can the new government do ‘Spread the News?” Can the Government change your mindset? Oh yes, it can.

Firstly, stop classifying dental clinics like a beauty parlour. Make dental prescriptions funded like GP scripts? Make toothpaste and toothbrushes cheaper and distribute them in clinics to patients on the community services card etc. Why is there no subsidy for dental clinics all around New Zealand to offer subsidized access without being tied into contracts with the Health Department? In this way, lifetime costs of oral care will drop, general health will improve but like all good things, the Government must take the first step, show leadership.

Yes, a Labour – Greens – NZ First coalition can do a ton of work that has been neglected for decades. Let us all begin a big clean-up.

Let’s clean up our Mouths along with our rivers, streams and our water table.