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HealthInfo Canterbury

Dental care for people with special needs

The Community Dental Service provides dental care for all children, including those with special needs, until the end of intermediate school or Year 8. The Community Dental can refer children to the Hospital Dental Service for one course of treatment, or for dental care that 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 in Canterbury with special needs who attend a day programme or who are in supported living, can get regular dental care with the Hospital Dental Service. The fees are subsidised, but there will still be a small charge.

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. Page created October 2018.

Page reference: 171105

Review key: HIDCC-49010