Tooth-decay rates in Ashburton six- year-olds have increased 25 per cent since fluoride was taken out of the reticulated supply four years ago, says the Canterbury District Health Board.
The controversial subject of fluoridating water may be back on the Ashburton District Council’s agenda after a submission to its long-term plan yesterday by the South Canterbury medical officer of health, Dr Daniel Williams, and Martin Lee, clinical director of the Canterbury District Health Board School and Community Dental Service.
They were backed by Mid- Canterbury dental therapist Brenda Fechney.
But anti- fluoride campaigner Don Church, who was instrumental in having fluoride taken out of the Ashburton supply, vowed to fight if the council decided to reconsider the matter.
The council is hearing a raft of submissions to its long-term plan and will meet again soon to consider what it will do about the submissions.
Lee said data that showed a 25% increase in decay rates in Ashburton six-year-olds since fluoridation ceased in 2002 was a wake-up call for the town.
“It’s also a reminder for the rest of the country not to be misled by a few vocal fluoridation opponents. Teeth need fluoride,” he said.
“This year, for the first time, I have seen five-year-olds with decay in their permanent teeth.”
Fechney, who works with Mid- Canterbury children, said she was seeing more preschoolers with cavities.
“Sometimes your heart just sinks when you open their mouths,” she said.
Fechney used to refer about six children a year for treatment under general anaesthetic in Christchurch, but now it was about one a week.
She said it was noticeable that in Methven, which still has fluoride in its water, teeth were better.
Williams said he could not tell the council what to do, but recommended it review its decision to stop fluoridation in Ashburton.