Concerned parents told The Cairns Post last week they were struggling to find alternative options because fluoride tablets were no longer commercially available in Australia, while pharmacies such as Good Price Pharmacy Westcourt were preparing to compound their own drops.
But James Cook University associate professor in preventative dentistry and indigenous oral health Robyn Boase said fluoride tablets and drops should be taken carefully, as an overdose could lead to a condition called dental fluorosis.
“One of the concerns in the past was that Queensland had the highest rate of accidental overdose from drops and tablets,” she said.
“Sometimes people thought one drop is good, so two drops must be better. They’re not as effective as water fluoridation, which provides a continuous low dose of fluoride levels in the blood. They can be associated with increased risk of dental fluorosis.”
Prof Boase said diluting fluoride drops in a jug of water at 0.7 to 1 parts per million ratio would be the best replacement for water fluoridation, combined with regular use of fluoride toothpaste and mouthwashes and good diet management.
“Fluoride toothpaste and mouthwashes work, but water fluoridation worked in addition to it,” she said.
“I’m deeply disappointed (with the Council’s decision) because it’s going to cost people money, a lot of pain and unnecessary fillings. The people who will be conscientious are not the ones who need help.”
Calanna Pharmacy naturopath Vanessa Laird said tablets with a combination of tissue salts including calcium fluoride, calcium chloride, calcium phosphate, magnesium phosphate and silicon dioxide are available for purchase and safer, because the ingredients were are naturally occurring.
“Fluoride is incredibly beneficial but it needs to bind with other minerals like calcium to guard against toxic effects,” she said.
Colgate Australia declined to comment as to why fluoride tablets were taken off the commercial market and when or if they would be available in pharmacies.