It's Free and It's All Good

It's Free and It's All Good

HE Code: 
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Publication date: 
December 2012
Revision date: 
August 2020
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Information for teenagers about free dental care, including how to access it, what happens at an appointment and the benefits of regular check ups.

Under 18? No matter where you're at ... high school, training course, work or unemployed ... you can receive FREE dental care every year and give your self something to smile about!

What's the deal?

No matter where you're at ... high school, training course, work or unemployed ... you can receive FREE dental care every year until your 18th birthday!

What free dental care will I get?

  • A yearly check-up.
  • X-rays if necessary.
  • Cleaning to remove plaque, staining and tartar.
  • Fillings for teeth that have tooth decay (holes).
  • Extractions to remove teeth that have been badly affected by tooth decay.

For more details, go to

Why go for a check up?

Having a healthy mouth and an attractive smile can improve your confidence and self-esteem.

Regular check-ups help you maintain healthy teeth for an attractive smile.

Dentists and dental or oral health therapists can give you expert advice about:

  • keeping your teeth, mouth and gums healthy (called oral health)
  • preventing bad breath
  • dental decay and toothache
  • preventing gum disease (gingivitis).

Good oral health can also improve your overall health. (Gum disease has been linked with heart and lung diseases and diabetes.)

What to do?

  1. To find the dentists providing free care in your area, call 0800 TALK TEETH (0800 825 583).
  2. Phone or visit your chosen dentist to make an appointment for a check-up.
  3. Turn up for your appointment. Let the receptionist know you are there and who you are. You’ll need to fill out an enrolment form when you get there.
It’s so easy – and you can take a support person with you if you like! 123 EASY AS!

Which dentist should I go to?

Choosing a dentist is a bit like choosing a hairdresser. You may follow the advice of a mate, health professional or family member – but it’s up to you to choose. And it’s fine if you want to change to a different dentist – you’ll just need to fill out an enrolment form when you go to your new provider.

Not all dentists provide the free dental service, so phone 0800 TALK TEETH (0800 825 583) to check for the free providers in your area.

What to expect at the dental practice

Dental practices often have a strange smell. This is from the cleaning products they use to make sure everything is super clean and ultra-sterilised so germs can’t spread.

Sometimes you’ll hear unusual sounds. These sounds are from the equipment dentists use to clean and fix your teeth.

Also expect to see dentists and dental staff wearing uniforms, gloves and masks. This is to prevent germs from spreading between patients and staff.

A dentist or dental or oral health therapist may provide your dental care. A dental assistant may also be present to help the dentist.

What to expect at your appointment

Check-ups usually take about 15 minutes.

You will be invited to meet the oral health professional in the consulting room.

The oral health professional will:

  • check the forms you filled in
  • ask you some questions about your health
  • invite you to sit in the dental chair
  • position a light to shine into your mouth
  • usually provide you with protective plastic glasses to put on
  • use special tools to feel the surfaces of your teeth and around the gum line
  • if necessary, take X-rays of your teeth, to check for decay.

Just relax and, when asked, open your mouth wide.

If no decay is found in your teeth and your gums are healthy, your dental care will probably take only one appointment.

If something needs to be fixed, you may need more than one appointment. The oral health professional will discuss this with you. It is important you go back and finish your treatment to prevent pain or further problems.

Tips for healthy teeth and gums

  • Be smokefree.
  • Drink water or milk (instead of fizzies, energy drinks and fruit juices).
  • Use a mouthguard when playing contact sports.
  • Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and floss once a day.
  • Go for a dental check-up every 12 months.

Brushing twice a day and flossing daily removes plaque and bacteria from your teeth and gums and is the best way to prevent bad breath, dental decay and gum disease.

For more information

How fresh is your breath?

Lick your wrist, wait 10 seconds and then smell the spot where you licked. The smell will be very similar to what your breath smells like.

98 percent of teenagers surveyed voted bad breath as the worst turn-off when dating a girl or guy.