Health professionals need to "stop flogging the dead horse of fluoridisation" and take a wider approach to dental health, according to a Whanganui District Health Board member.

Judith MacDonald, who is also the chief executive of the Whanganui Regional Health Network, said she would like to see pop-up dental clinics offering free dental care to people of all ages.

Mrs MacDonald, speaking at a WDHB committee meeting on Friday, said while the WDHB's oral health strategy was to be commended, it needed to focus on more than fluoridation.

"Fluoridisation is just one of many measures we should use. I'm not sure that [having fluoride added to drinking water] is a battle that can ever be won - there will always be opposition to it."


WDHB's general manager, Tracey Schiebli, said 18 Wanganui dentists had been surveyed about whether they agreed with putting fluoride in drinking water.

"Of those 18, we didn't get responses from four and the other 14 all supported adding fluoride to Wanganui's drinking water," Mrs Schiebli said.

Mrs MacDonald also said the focus of the strategy should not be just children's dental health.

"We have parents in this community who have bad teeth - how can we expect their children to have good teeth? Oral health is not just a health issue, it's a community issue," she said.

Mrs MacDonald said she would like to see the WDHB partner with other agencies such as the Ministry of Social Development to offer mobile clinics offering free dental care for people of all ages.

The committee agreed to a resolution to look at introducing practical strategies for improving dental health.