Resumo BACKGROUND: Patient charges and availability of dental services influence utilization of dental services. There is little available information on the cost of dental services and availability of materials and equipment in public dental facilities in Africa. This study aimed to determine the relative cost and availability of dental services, materials and equipment in public oral care facilities in Tanzania. The local factors affecting availability were also studied. METHODS: A survey of all district and regional dental clinics in selected regions was conducted in 2014. A total of 28/30 facilities participated in the study. A structured interview was undertaken amongst practitioners and clinic managers within the facilities. Daily resources for consumption (DRC) were used for estimation of patients' relative cost. DRC are the quantified average financial resources required for an adult Tanzanian's overall consumption per day. RESULTS: Tooth extractions were found to cost four times the DRC whereas restorations were 9-10 times the DRC. Studied facilities provided tooth extractions (100%), scaling (86%), fillings (79%), root canal treatment (46%) and fabrication of removable partial dentures (32%). The ratio of tooth fillings to extractions in the facilities was 1:16. Less than 50% of the facilities had any of the investigated dental materials consistently available throughout the year, and just three facilities had all the investigated equipment functional and in use. CONCLUSIONS: Dental materials and equipment availability, skills of the practitioners and the cost of services all play major roles in provision and utilization of comprehensive oral care. These factors are likely to be interlinked and should be taken into consideration when studying any of the factors individually.