Jacinda Ardern taking time off for wisdom tooth extraction after 'three years' of issues

The Prime Minister will take time off next week to recover from having an impacted wisdom tooth extracted over the weekend. 

Jacinda Ardern told reporters at her weekly post-Cabinet press conference on Monday that next week's press conference won't be going ahead due to her absence. 

"I want to let you know that unfortunately there will be no post-Cab next Monday the 25th of November as I will be recovering from having an impacted wisdom tooth extracted over the weekend."

An impacted wisdom tooth is a disorder where the tooth is prevented from coming through the gums, either because other teeth are in the way or it's angled away from a vertical position. 

"I know that's more detail than any of you would've liked, and more than I'd like to share, but I didn't want to start any speculation."

Ardern joked that there is "no special dental clinic for Prime Ministers in New Zealand", and said despite "plenty of commentary about my dentistry over the years", she goes to a regular dentist "like everyone else". 

The Prime Minister told reporters she's had issues with her wisdom teeth for three years, and when asked if dentistry is too expensive, Ardern nodded in agreement. 

"I think accessing dental work in general in New Zealand is an issue, I do, and every time I go to the dentist I reflect on that."

Having a single wisdom tooth removed can cost as much as $1500 in New Zealand. 

The Prime Minister said there are a "number of areas" where the Government is looking to make the public health system "more accessible", and said it's a matter of prioritising them. 

Ardern didn't disclose the price of her appointment, saying she hadn't yet received a final quote, but said she expects it will be "reasonable". 

The Prime Minister said she was told it could take "several days" before she will be "comfortable being out in public again". 

Earlier this year the Dental Association expressed shock over the industry missing out on extra funding in this year's Wellbeing Budget. 

Health Minister David Clark told Newshub in May that there likely wouldn't be any extra funding in the Government's first term. 

Dental Association President Bill O'Connor said extra funding for dentistry would have an immediate impact on the oral health of New Zealanders. 

Former Health Minister Dame Annette King has suggested dental hygienists and oral therapists get their own standalone council, having worked under the supervision and control of the Dental Council for too long. 

Operating as a separate entity, they could provide simple dental care to New Zealanders which could increase the availability of dental services and reduce prices. 

It's estimated providing free oral care for all adults in New Zealand could cost $1 billion annually.