Fourth year dentistry students from Otago University have been providing everything from root canals to fillings for free every Sunday over the past six weeks to help people with low incomes.
For Brendon Hurring, he said the initiative has made a life-changing difference. With his life at a crossroads and out of pocket, a costly trip to the dentist was not a priority.
“It demoralised me, I was like my ‘teeth are stuffed’,” he said.
“I used to use alcohol and drugs. It's my own fault, big shame spiral and gave up basically."
Dentistry student Jamie Marra said a lot of the patients they saw hadn’t seen a dentist in several years.
“It reminds us why we're here putting all this effort and energy into studying,” she said.
Associate professor Jonathan Broadbent said the students were able to provide about $70,000 worth of dental treatment.
“Those types of basic dental services I'd love to see them universally available for all New Zealanders,” he said.
There’s already hope the initiative could return next year.