Community Oral Health Service


In Taranaki free basic dental care for children and young people (aged 0-17) is provided by Taranaki DHB Community Oral Health Service (previously the school dental service) and contracted dentists.

Basic dental care includes:

  • An annual check up
  • Oral health advice and encouragement for good oral health
  • Examination and dental X-rays, if necessary
  • Preventative treatment, such as topical fluoride and fissure sealants (coatings)
  • Restorations (fillings) and extractions

Children can be enrolled for free dental visits from birth. It is important to look after baby teeth as decay can affect a child’s eating, their speech and development, and may even affect their adult teeth as well. As children grow regular dental care helps to keep teeth healthy and means problems can be recognised and treated early. Free dental services continue for teenagers until their 18th birthday; regardless of whether they attend a school or not.
Children requiring treatment that cannot be provided by the Community Oral Health Service are referred to either a private dentist or the Taranaki DHB Hospital Dental Unit.

Basic dental care does not include:

  • Orthodontic treatment, including the extraction of teeth for orthodontic purposes. If you are considering orthodontic treatment for your child, the Dental Council have developed an information sheet and video to help you understand your options
  • Tooth whitening
  • Accident (ACC) related dental treatment

Care will not be free if you chose a dentist who does not have a contract with the DHB. For a list of contracted dentists click here.

How to enrol a child for dental care: from 0 - 12 years (Year 8)

  • Phone 0800 TALK TEETH (0800 825 583) and follow the prompts
  • Click here for more information on how to care for children’s teeth and protect their smile for life

The dental staff will contact you by phone or text. If the time does not suit please contact the clinic to change the appointment.

How to enrol an adolescent for dental care: from Year 9 - 17 years of age

  • Contact a dentist on the list of dentists or in the Yellow Pages and ask if they offer free dental care to teenagers up until they are 18
  • Phone 0800 TALK TEETH (0800 825 583) and follow the prompts

Referral to the Communtiy Oral Health Service

Dental care during COVID-19 alert levels

The Community Oral Health dental clinics are open in Alert Levels 1 and 2. However there will be some changes and if you contact or visit a clinic you may notice some differences - these are to keep you safe and our teams safe.

  • We are required to ask health-screening questions before we can offer you an appointment;
  • We are required to ask health-screening questions again when you arrive at the clinic;
  • We will ask you to use hand sanitiser at the clinic, observe physical distancing, and only one support person/adult may attend the appointments with the child/ren;
  • We are also having to prioritise children according to their clinical need (which means we may not be able to see a child who has a wiggly tooth which will fall out naturally);
  • In order to help you get the best care, we might ask you for a photo of the problem (parents have been taking some great photos!).

If you have any questions, you are welcome to phone the dental clinic nearest to you or 0800 TALK TEETH (0800 825 583), and someone will be able to assist you.

Last updated: Thursday, April 29, 2021

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