Almost two thirds of Kiwis want Government to prioritise free dentistry - poll

Sixty-four per cent of voters want the Government to prioritise free dental care for New Zealanders, the latest 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton Poll has found.

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A 1 News Colmar Brunton Poll asked whether Kiwis should be helped with the often-expensive services. Source: 1 NEWS

Those polled were asked if they thought the Government should prioritise making dentistry free. 

Yes - 64%
No - 33%
Don't Know - 3%

The groups of people more likely than average to agree with priroitising free dental care were women aged 18-34, Pacific Peoples, Māori, Asian New Zealanders and Labour Party supporters. 

Those who were more likely than average to be against were men aged 55 and over, people with an annual household income of more than $150,000, National Party supporters and New Zealand Europeans.  

Dental public health Associate Professor Jonathan Broadbent said a high proportion of New Zealanders reported they found it difficult to access dental care and there was a high proportion of people with unmet need.

Currently, under 18-year-olds are able to have free dentistry. 

Dr Broadbent said the problems begin when people exit that free system. 

He suggested a sugar-sweetened beverages tax to curb the underlying issue. 

Dr Assil Russell of Revive a Smile said the Government needed to step up. 

She said a first step that "could make a huge difference" would be a targeted approach by subsidising dental care.

The Prime Minister was also challenged at Waitangi to expand free dental care. 

Isaiah Apiata, who was speaking on behalf of the people of the area, saw the MPs hit with criticism over the unaffordability of dental costs for some. Mr Apiata suggested MPs pay triple the cost for their dental bills.

Ms Ardern said she did "hear that call". 

Those polled were asked, ''Currently, under 18-year-olds get free dentistry. Do you think the Government should prioritise making dentistry free for all New Zealanders?'

Between February 8 to 12, 1004 eligible voters were polled by landline (402) and mobile phone (602). The maximum sampling error is approximately ±3.1%-points at the 95% confidence level.

The data has been weighted to align with Stats NZ population counts for age, gender, region, ethnic identification and mobile or landline access.