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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Dental care for people with special needs

Te ratonga niho mō ngā hunga motuhake


The Community Dental Service provides dental care for all tamariki (children) until the end of Year 8, including those with special needs.

The Community Dental can refer tamariki to the Hospital Dental Service for one course of treatment or for dental care they cannot provide, such as a general anaesthetic. The Hospital Dental Service decides whether a person is eligible for continuing care on a case-by-case basis.


Teenagers with special needs (school Years 9 to 13) can visit dentists offering free care for teens. Visit the Community Dental Service website to find a free dentist in your area.

If your teen finds a dental appointment difficult or if they have specific needs that can’t be met, a health professional can refer your teen to the Hospital Dental Service. The Hospital Dental Service may decide to provide ongoing dental care.


Adults with special needs who attend a day programme or who are in supported living can get regular dental care from the Hospital Dental Service. The fees are subsidised but there is a small charge.

Contact details

Hospital Dental Service

Phone: (03) 364‑0250


Community Dental Service

Phone: 0800‑846‑983 or 0800-TALK-TEETH (0800‑825‑583)

Website: Community Dental Service

Written by Canterbury DHB dentists. Adapted by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed March 2022.

Page reference: 171105

Review key: HIDCC-49010