FREE Dental Care from birth to 17 years
The Auckland Regional Dental Service (ARDS) operates across the Auckland District Health Board (ADHB), Counties Manukau District Health Board (CMDHB) and the Waitematā District Health Board (Waitematā DHB) catchment areas. Free dental care is available for children from birth to their 18th Birthday and includes dental examinations and x-rays, preventive treatments and treatment of dental caries, which may include fillings. Dental treatment is provided by different dental providers depending on a child’s age
Children from birth to school year 8
- The Children’s Community Dental Service provides free dental services to children from birth to Year 8.
- We operate from 83 dental facilities across the greater Auckland area.
- These facilities include a mixture of community-based clinics and mobile dental services.
- Dental care within the Children’s Community Dental Service is primarily provided by dental therapists and oral health therapists who are qualified professionals specialising in oral health diagnosis, treatment and prevention.
- Parents and caregivers are welcome to attend appointments with their child.
- How often we see your child is based on your child’s clinical need.
- Our therapists will assess your child’s need and talk to you about it.
- Please note we do not provide orthodontic care.
Children from school year 9 to their 18th birthday (Adolescent)
- Free dental care continues for your child when they move to secondary school (Year 9 onwards), right up until your child turns 18
- Adolescent dental care is provided by specific dental practices within communities and mobile dental services at high schools and colleges who have a contract with the District Health Board. If a dental provider does not have a contract with the DHB then the service will not be free.
- To receive free treatment your child is required to enrol with a dentist who holds a contract with the DHB in your area
- The majority of dental work is free but this does not include orthodontic work or any treatments associated with orthodontics and treatments related to accidents. ACC will normally cover the treatment costs related to accidents.
- Regardless of whether adolescents are at school, in paid employment or not, they are still entitled to free dental services.
- For more information about enrolment, or to find a free adolescent dental care practice near you, please see below or phone 0800 TALK TEETH (0800 825 583).
Adolescent contracting dental practices
- Please view a list of adolescent contracting dental practices in the Auckland region.
Adolescent mobile dental providers
- Mobile dental services are provided to most schools and colleges in Auckland by Lumino Dental, Smilecare Dental, Raukura Hauora O Tainui and the West Auckland Mobile Dental Service
- The service is provided from a mobile dental surgery on the school grounds
- You can view a list of schools where the adolescent mobile service operates
General Dental Check
Your child's first dental appointments should start when they are about 1 year old.
At your child’s general dental check they will have a full clinical dental examination by a registered Dental Therapist/Oral Health Therapist. Dependent on your child's age and needs this may include x-rays to check for problems below the gum, between & inside teeth, bone areas and tissue within the mouth.
Your child will also have their dental needs assessment completed. The assessment will help determine the best time for your child to be seen for their next general dental check - 6, 12 or 18 months’ time.
The dental needs assessment considers several things:
- The clinical dental examination
- X-ray results (if applicable)
- Your child’s diet and brushing habits
- Any dental problems your child has had in the past
- Some medical factors
- Preventive treatments used.
You can talk to your Dental Therapist/Oral Health Therapist if you have any questions about your child’s dental treatment or dental needs assessment.
Below are some ways you can help to keep your child's teeth healthy:
- Brush teeth two times a day with fluoride toothpaste
- Give your child water to drink when thirsty, it is fresh and free
- Don’t let your child sleep with a bottle in their mouth
- Keep sweet foods to meal times and try to give teeth a rest of 2 hours between eating
- Give sugar free snacks such as bread, cheese, vegemite, fresh fruit, vegetables, egg, plain crackers.
If you want to know more about what dental care and advice we provide, talk to the Dental Therapist/Oral Health Therapist at your nearest clinic or call: 0800 TALK TEETH (0800 825 5833)
All babies born in Auckland's main hospitals are automatically registered with the FREE Children's Community Dental Service. You will receive a text message to welcome you and your child will be invited to attend a free dental appointment when they are about 1 year old.
If your child is new to Auckland or new to New Zealand they may not be registered with us. To enrol/register your child please complete the on-line ARDS Dental registration and Update Details E-Form
Once completed, at the bottom of the form, you can choose to either email the form or print and post to:
Private Bag 93115
Note: PDF downloads require the free Adobe Reader application to view.
Alternatively, you can phone 0800 TALK TEETH (0800 825 583), or contact one of our dental facilities.
- ARDS – Frequently asked Questions
- Brushing Chart
- Caring for your Baby-Toddlers Teeth - ARDS
- My Lunchbox colouring activity
- Oral Health Messages 5 to 12 years
- Oral Health Messages Pre-schoolers
- Oral Health Messages 0-6 months
- Oral Health Messages Pregnancy
- Oral Health Messages Teenagers
- Smart Snacks And Lunch Box Ideas
- Sugar Fact Sheet
For more information on good oral healthcare see the Healthy Smiles website.
Please contact ARDS on 0800 TALK TEETH (0800 825 583)
If you would like to update your contact details and include an email address on your child’s file, please email ARDS@waitematadhb.govt.nz
Frequently asked questions
Babies, children and adolescents are entitled to free dental care from new-born until their 18th birthday.
- An oral health examination that checks teeth, cheeks, gums and health of the supporting facial tissues.
- Advice and encouragement about how to take care of teeth and gums for good oral health and a lovely smile!
- Dental X-rays, when necessary
- Preventive treatments that help prevent decay, such as fluoride and fissure sealants (coatings)
- Fillings on baby and adult teeth (restorations) and removing baby teeth (extractions) if needed. A referral when more comprehensive care is needed is also part of our care.
Phone 0800 TALK TEETH (0800 825 583) to speak to one of our friendly staff. We are happy to help find a suitable time and the best place for you to come to an appointment.
Generally, your children will see a dental therapist or oral health therapist.
However, for some specialised treatments, your child may need to be seen by a dentist.
We have dental clinics across Auckland that support accessibility for people with physical disabilities. If you have questions please phone 0800 TALK TEETH to discuss your child’s specific needs.
Primary or baby teeth start developing before your child is born and will start to come through in the mouth at around six months. All 20 teeth will be through by about age three, and at around six years the adult teeth will begin to come through. For more information please see the Ministry of Health
Most children do suffer some pain during teething. Their cheeks may appear red and warm to touch. Using special gels and teething rings can help to reduce the pain. However, teething does not cause health problems like high fever, vomiting, diarrhoea, and ear infection. If the child has any of these symptoms, or if pain continues, it is best to consult with a health professional.
Children should start using fluoride toothpaste as soon as their first teeth come through the gums. An adult should make sure that only a smear (rice gran size) be used for children under two and a pea-size for children over six years.
Loose baby teeth are a normal part of growing and will almost always fall out by themselves, some take longer than others and sometimes the new tooth can be seen before the baby tooth comes out. Please encourage your child to keep wiggling the tooth, even if it might be a bit uncomfortable. If a loose baby tooth takes more than a couple of months to fall out or your child is in significant discomfort or pain, please contact 0800 TALK TEETH (0800 825 583) to talk to one of our friendly staff about it.
Tooth decay, dental decay or a cavity is the gradual break down of the tooth, most commonly caused by sugar. The bacteria in the plaque in your mouth turns sugar on your teeth into acid. This acid attacks the enamel of your teeth and after repeated attacks creates a hole or cavity.
Dental plaque is a soft, sticky coating of bacteria that forms on teeth every day. If not removed by brushing and flossing, the bacteria in dental plaque can cause tooth decay and gum disease.