Whangarei voters have given fluoridation the thumbs down in a council opinion poll.
Only 38% of residents voted on the Ministry of Health proposal to put fluoride in drinking water in a bid to reduce serious dental decay in children.
More than 11,000 voters opposed the move while more than 6,000 were in favour.
Whangarei Mayor Craig Brown says the poll is not binding on the council, but public opinion is clear and it would take a “foolish” council to fly in the face of such a result.
Brown says Whangarei District Council will discuss the results of the poll at its February meeting.
In May, Northland Health welcomed a call by the Kaikohe Community Board for fluoride to be introduced to water supplies in the Far North.
The Far North District Council was asked to investigate and start a process of public consultation.
Northland Health’s fluoride advocate Bob McKegg said children’s teeth in the north were the worst in the country. He said fluoridated water in other regions has halved decay and ended a great deal of suffering.
McKegg said many children, especially from poorer families, suffer chronic abscesses and need their baby teeth extracted before they are two years old.
But at the end of last month, a Whangarei dentist advised people to vote against putting fluoride in Northland’s drinking water.
Laurie Brett said tooth decay rates improved everywhere in the last 30 years and people absorb enough fluoride from toothpaste and other sources.
An Otago medical school lecturer also said fluoride should no longer be put in drinking water because overseas studies show toxic effects in animals.
The Ministry of Health has said it has no plans for NZ research on fluoridation.
But the Director of Public Health, Colin Tukuitonga, said the ministry will keep a close eye on research being done on fluoride in Great Britain.