The Progressive Party wants dental care to become government-subsidised along the lines of visits to general practitioners.
The party launched its dental care policy in Auckland on Thursday, saying hundreds of thousands of people can no longer afford trips to the dentist, with existing government help limited to children and some beneficiaries.
Party leader Jim Anderton says people are queuing from 5am each day at some public hospitals for one of the limited number of consultations providing pain relief or tooth extraction.
Mr Anderton wants a wide investigation into the provision of subsidised dentist visits initially for the youngest, oldest and poorest in society.
He says dental care has been put in the political too-hard basket for too long but is one of his party's four key initiatives for this election.
Mr Anderton says one solution could be a state-subsidised insurance scheme similar to the ACC levy, which would make more affordable dental care within reach of everyone.