With water fluoridation in the news recently, Toi Te Ora – Public Health Service wants to ensure that Rotorua residents have reliable and credible information on water fluoridation.
“Everyone benefits from water fluoridation especially children and those most at risk of poor oral health,” says Dr Neil de Wet, Medical Officer of Health for Lakes District Health Board. “The New Zealand Oral Health Survey 2009 showed that children and adolescents in fluoridated areas had, on average, 40% less tooth decay than those in non-fluoridated areas.”
Compared to New Zealand as a whole, children in the Lakes District Health Board (DHB) area have some of the poorest dental health statistics. For example, according to the most recent available Ministry of Health data, 56% of Year 8 children in the Lakes DHB area have tooth decay – this is the highest of all DHBs. “It’s a child’s right to have the best opportunities society can provide to have good health, including good teeth. This is one of the reasons why water fluoridation is so important for Rotorua,” says Dr de Wet.
There is overwhelming consensus from the national organisations that represent doctors, public health specialists and dentists that water fluoridation is safe and effective in helping protect teeth from decay. The Auckland water supply is fluoridated and residents of Hamilton, Hastings and Whakatane also showed their majority support for fluoride last year in their local referendums. Along with brushing twice a day, choosing low sugar food and drinks, and having regular dental check-ups, water fluoridation helps protect our teeth and provides life-long benefits.
Fluoride is naturally present in the water we drink but in Rotorua’s water sources, like almost all New Zealand water sources, this is below the level that benefits teeth. Water fluoridation is when the natural fluoride level in the water supply is topped up with just enough fluoride to protect our teeth. Water fluoridation helps to protect teeth by making them stronger and by slowing down decay. It’s also the best way to make sure everyone’s teeth get some protection, especially those of children.
“Water fluoridation can be a contentious issue and often this arises from misinformation, which is why we are committed to providing accurate and credible information from reliable professional sources. I encourage you to visit the Toi Te Ora – Public Health Service website for information on water fluoridation,” says Dr de Wet.