Dentist bills set to rise as clinics pass on cost of expensive protective gear

Dentist bills are set to rise as clinics pass on the cost of expensive protective gear.

Some dentists say they can't access personal protective equipment (PPE) from DHBs and instead have to source it from private providers.

The New Zealand Dental Association says PPE access for dentists is so patchy they're buying their own instead.

"We are having to pay that additional cost of PPE which might be up to $80 per patient," said NZ Dental Association President Katie Ayers.

Newshub has spoken to dentists across the country who are struggling to get hold of protective gear. 

One Napier dentist said their supplier put a hold on gowns because the supply price is so prohibitive.

Another told Newshub, "We are receiving no PPE from the Ministry of Health or DHBs. We have to buy PPE privately which is expensive and hard to find".

The Government - on Friday represented by Finance Minister Grant Robertson - is continuing to insist it's a distribution problem rather than supply.

Dentists passing on the cost of privately purchased PPE creates another barrier to getting dental care during lockdown. 

The last thing hospitals need is for people to end up there due to dental problems - but that has already happened at least once, with a patient sent to ICU with a tooth infection.