Health chiefs in Northland say they may relaunch a campaign to push for fluoride to be returned to water supplies in the district.
The DHB told Parliament's health select committee today that the oral health of Northland's children is among the worst in the country.
Its chiefs said they now had the capacity to provide an annual oral health check for all children up to the age of 12.
But the chief executive, Nick Chamberlain, said results were what mattered, and tooth decay rates were still very high.
He said it had embarked on a project to varnish the teeth of 20,000 children with fluoride to help protect them.
But Mr Chamberlain said it was time consuming, and that the Northland DHB wanted fluoride to be returned to local water supplies.
Speaking outside the committee, he said if board approval was gained, it would launch a new campaign.