Fluoridation of Gunnedah water supply
I have been a dentist for 37 years, working in Gunnedah since 1986, and believe fluoridation of our town water is long overdue.
In that time I’ve seen many, many patients – children and adults – with dental disease that could have been avoided.
With Gunnedah Shire Council consulting the community, we have the chance to make submissions and speak out in support of fluoridation. Water fluoridation is not just about improving oral health. Water fluoridation is a very cost effective, proven and equitable public health measure that gives everybody a fair go.
Fluoridating the water can help reduce tooth decay for all members of the community. The benefit does not depend on how old they are, what their financial situation is or how often they can see a dentist. Children, the elderly, Indigenous Australians, the socially disadvantaged and people on lower incomes are the most affected by dental decay, and so stand to benefit the most from water fluoridation.
Continuing scientific research that started back in the 1950s shows that water fluoridation reduces tooth decay by 26% to 44% in children and adolescents and 27% in adults.
Kids in pain with tooth decay can’t sleep. They miss school and can’t concentrate in class. They can’t eat properly. It can affect their speech and the development of their permanent teeth. Kids as young as two and three are still admitted to hospital, put under general anaesthetic, and have teeth extracted because of decay and the resulting abscess.
Dental conditions are the fourth-highest cause of hospital admissions that could have been prevented in our local health district, leading to more than 2,300 hospitalisations in 2015-16.
Dental decay is preventable. The pain it causes is unnecessary.
The costs of treating it – money spent by individuals, families and as taxpayers through the health system – could be significantly reduced.
Last week, after a comprehensive review of the latest scientific evidence, the National Health and Medical Research Council released a public statement on water fluoridation and human health. It recommends community water fluoridation “as a safe, effective and ethical way to help reduce tooth decay” and says: “There is no reliable evidence of an association between community water fluoridation at current Australian levels and any health problems.”
In NSW, 93 per cent of the population has access to fluoridated water. It’s time the people of Gunnedah got the opportunity to share in the benefits.
Michael Jonas BDS BSc Dip Ed,
Fluoride debate divides
I have read with interest the debate happening in Gunnedah regarding fluoride in the town’s water supply.
I find this subject very interesting, as many years ago now, I (as an alderman on the Tamworth City Council) was chosen by Council to be a representative on behalf of the Tamworth City Council to an appointment in Sydney Health Department regarding fluoridation in state-wide water supplies. That meant at the time, a trip to Sydney for a meeting once every few months for years.
Tamworth Council was, at the time, particularly chosen as one of several water supplies with fluoride as it had a long history of fluoride in the water in NSW, starting in the 1950’s I think.
History talks about the decision to put fluoride in the water supply came after talks with people, dentists and public figures in Tamworth.
I took particular interest in this, as it raised its head locally again, like it does in many towns, after some years of fluoridation use, to see what the public still thinks about the chemical which was chosen years before.
Although this is a long time ago, I particularly recall the meetings in Sydney, as the fluoridation people of the State Government were keen to get all towns using fluoride water. At the time, there was a financial benefit available to get started. What happens now, I don’t know about that.
Like in Gunnedah today, there were many people not happy about the fluoride in the water supply in the 70’s and 80’s. The debate has not been raised in Tamworth for many years.
I was married with small children at the time and my wife, with some of her group of friends were not happy about the fluoride, because they themselves had carried out studies that did not look at it in a favourable light.
During those meetings in Sydney, I was a little bit alarmed about how they pushed and pushed to get towns on the scheme. I believed it was a purely personal thing and if people really didn’t want it, you shouldn’t make them have it. It was particularly interesting at the time, because we (my family) had moved out of town and we were not on Tamworth water supply.
The advice to me was that we should take fluoride tablets, otherwise the children would grow up with teeth problems.
As it turned out, my children grew up with absolutely beautiful teeth using tank and bore water and still have beautiful teeth today.
I must say, my wife, Lorraine, was strict on our children with their teeth cleaning, which makes me think that it’s more about how the kids clean their teeth than it is about fluoride.
Many of our friends had the same experience.
I have read information over the years about fluoride and where it comes from and it does make you wonder why it doesn’t cause other health problems in life.
Warren Woodley OAM,