Association of Salaried Medical Specialists calls for dental grants to be extended further

The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists says the Government's increase in dental care funding should be extended further, otherwise, we'll continue "kicking the can down the road".

The Government increased dental care funding for Kiwis on low incomes for the first time in 25 years on Thursday. 

The special dental grant, which is for those who earn no more than minimum wage, was lifted from $300 to $1000. 

But the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists Executive Director Sarah Dalton is calling for the grants to be extended to those who are below the living wage. 

Dalton told AM the increase "is a fantastic step forward" but isn't supporting enough Kiwis. 

"By not supporting people to access dental care when they first need it, we are simpling putting the costs down the road."

In a statement, she said Kiwis who earn a cent more than the minimum wage may not qualify for the grant. 

Dalton told AM with nearly half of New Zealanders avoiding dental care because of the costs "we're actually making those costs greater".

"By the time people get care, they may have infections, they may have much worse health conditions, they may have other health conditions that started with poor oral health," she said. 

"We're just kicking the can down the road."

She told AM extending the dental grant further will benefit a "much greater section of our community".

"It's the right thing to do and it's going to yield economic and social benefits down the road."

And she says if it isn't extended "we're making our poorest people effectively borrow money from MSD to access care".

"Although this grant, which has been more than tripled, which is a fabulous step forward. We have EFTPOS data that show the average trip to the dentist costs people at least $350."

Watch the full interview above.