A DATE has finally been set for Ballarat to have its water fluoridated – and not before time.
After a lengthy public consultation process and ample opportunity for the proponents and opponents to have their say, fluoride at a rate of one part per million will combine with our water from November 16.
The move will bring significant benefits to future generations of children in Ballarat, where we currently have a substandard record of dental health which can be directly attributed to a lack of fluoride in the water.
The history of this debate in Ballarat goes back decades. It has come and gone as an issue, mainly because successive governments were frightened off by the tactics of those who opposed the idea.
The vocal anti-fluoride movement was able to plant enough doubt in the minds of the public that the government of the day feared a backlash if it acted.
But over the years, the science has improved and many of the claims of those opposed to fluoride have been scuttled.
If we look past the scaremongering, it is clear that the science overwhelmingly supports its introduction in the interest of public health.
Our waiting lists for public dental procedures are far too long and this is in part because we have not given our teeth the best possible protection available.
For too long, we have been living with an injustice where our metropolitan counterparts have had access to a public health service that Ballarat residents have not.
At long last we will be equal, as far as our teeth go.
Even so, the anti-fluoride lobby will not be silenced. And it shouldn’t necessarily be. Considered discussion from both sides is still useful.
Scaremongering, falsehoods and dodgy scientific studies, however, should not be part of that discussion.
This is not an untried, untested social experiment. Ballarat is not being asked to be guinea pigs for the rest of the nation.
In other parts of the country, residents have been drinking fluoridated water for generations without consequence.
On that basis, we know that Ballarat will be better off for having fluoride in its water.