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If you have concerns regarding the treatment you have received from your dentist, then the New Zealand Dental Association (NZDA) may be able to help.

If your dentist is a member of NZDA then you will be able to make use of our complaints services in resolving your concerns. You can check membership status by contacting a staff member at NZDA House, phone 09 579 8001.

What do you need to do?

To help reach a quick resolution, we suggest you follow these two steps:

  1. If you haven't already done so, please contact your dentist and discuss the issue with him/her (or write them a letter if you find this easier, they are required to respond to you). Many misunderstandings can be resolved just by taking this simple step.
  2. If you are unable to resolve your concern with the dentist, your next step should be to put your complaint in writing, and send it to the NZDA National Consumer Liaison Officer (NCLO)  

When writing your complaint, remember to include:

  • your name, address and daytime telephone number, including area code
  • the name and address of the dentist involved in your complaint or enquiry
  • copies of any letters or other documents that may help us to understand your complaint
  • a description of the complaint - state what happened, including the dates and the names of any other people involved, and then most importantly state how you see this being resolved in a manner that is fair to yourself and the dentist concerned.

What happens next?

  1. Your written complaint will be assessed by the NCLO, who will contact you if he/she needs any further information.
  2. The NCLO will contact the dentist concerned, and give him/her an opportunity to respond.
  3. The case will be reviewed fairly and impartially by the NCLO, who will consider ways to resolve the situation. He or she may then contact you and the dentist to try and achieve a resolution that is acceptable to both parties. This service is free.

What happens if my complaint can't be resolved?

If your complaint can't be resolved by the NCLO, then the next process that may be available to help you is NZDA 'peer review'. This means your case is considered by a peer review panel, consisting of a chairperson, one or more other registered dentists, and a lay person (a non-dentist, member of the public). It is a condition of NZDA membership for a dentist to accept peer review and the findings.

The purpose of peer review is to resolve disputes concerning quality and appropriateness of dental treatment. Fees charged are not a topic that can be considered for peer review. As with our NCLO, Peer Review is not a disciplinary system. It provides fair and independent answers to disputes about quality and appropriateness of dental treatment. Both the dentist and patient sign a consent declaration prior to the hearing, agreeing to abide by the panel’s decision. Not all cases are suitable for peer review, the decision on whether your case is suitable is that of the Peer Review Chair Person.

Can anyone else help me?

There are three other avenues of support available. Click on these links for information about the consumer complaints systems provided by:

  1. the Health and Disability Commissioner's Service
  2. the Dental Council of New Zealand
  3. the Disputes Tribunal (District Court)