Opinion

Lloyd Burr: It's time adult dental care was subsidised by the Government

OPINION

I've finally been to the dentist.

After more than a decade of being too scared, too tight, too poor, and too lazy to visit a dental clinic, I've finally broken the drought. 

It took peer pressure from Wils and the team, and from our wonderful listeners - one who called my mouth 'a rank gob' - to get me there. 

And the experience wasn't even bad.

The dentist poked and prodded, made my gums bleed and gave me an X-ray, then informed me of his oral findings. 

I need four fillings - two for cavities and two for building up my thinning two front teeth. 

The damage? $1867. 

Looks like I'll be austere for the next month or so. 

But if you divide it by the 10 years I've neglected my teeth, it's actually not too bad. It's $186.70 per year. 

It's still pretty exorbitant though - I'll struggle with a cost like that and I'm a single man with no dependants who has a relatively good income. 

How on earth are low and middle-income earners meant to afford that? 

They can't. And it means - like me over the last 10 years - they just won't go to the dentist. They'll kick the can down the road. 

It's time adult dental care was subsidised by the government. 

It would be expensive - probably well in excess of a billion dollars - but we have free hospital care, so why not dental? 

There are grants available at the moment for adult dental care - but that doesn't go far enough. 

Let's do it properly. Let's make it free to go to the dentist in New Zealand.