In light of the overwhelming support for water fluoridation at the weekend local elections, Dietitians NZ calls on the Ministry of Health to mandate the fluoridation of drinking water as part of the safe water supply for New Zealanders.
Dietitians New Zealand strongly supports fluoridation of water as a safe and cost-effective means of reducing tooth decay and recently endorsed the Ministry of Health Fluoride Facts website. Results from recent referenda in Hamilton, Whakatane and Hastings demonstrated the strength of community opinion regarding water fluoridation. More than 60 % of these communities voted for their water supply to be fluoridated. This important public health issue is too serious to be left to local Government bodies to determine on behalf of their constituents.
Fluoride is a natural element, and a beneficial nutrient at optimal levels. The 2009 New Zealand Oral Health Survey showed that people of all ages living in fluoridated areas had significantly less lifetime decay than those living in non-fluoridated areas. A 2004 study examining water fluoridation and dental caries in 5 – 12 year old children showed that in fluoridated areas, 5 year olds had 30 percent less decay and 12 year olds had 40 percent less decay compared to children in un-fluoridated areas.
The level of fluoride naturally occurring in water and in foods in New Zealand is generally low. If fluoride is added to water the natural level is adjusted to assist New Zealanders with adequate intake levels. Robust evidence supports water fluoridation as a proven, safe, community-based approach to preventing tooth decay across the entire population regardless of social -economic status or age. Fluoridating our water supply will significantly impact the lifetime diet, health and associated costs of individuals and communities.