FLUORIDE is set to begin flowing into Geelong’s drinking water supply this week ending decades of debate between the community and the State Government.
It will take a fortnight for the level of fluoride in the water to reach the optimal level of one milligram per litre.
Acting chief health officer Dr Rosemary Lester said water fluoridation at one part per million helps protect teeth against decay and is the safest way of allowing everyone access to the benefits of fluoride.
Dr Lester said fluoride benefits people of all ages by reducing dental decay.
“In Australia, children in non-fluoridated areas experience more dental decay than children in fluoridated areas. In Victoria, people are two times more likely in non-fluoridated areas to require hospitalisation for treatment of dental decay under general anaesthesia than people in fluoridated areas,” Dr Lester said.
According to the Department of Human Services, fluoride ingested through drinking water strengthens children’s teeth before they appear in their mouths and through saliva or water, which bathes the teeth over extended periods of time, remineralising tooth structure, which has commenced demineralisation.
“Tooth decay is a disease which affects both children and adults, and can cause considerable pain and suffering. When severe, tooth decay can affect appearance, self-esteem and social interaction and it can also make it difficult to speak and chew,” Dr Lester said.
“Water fluoridation helps protect teeth against decay, and is the most effective way of allowing everybody access to the benefits of fluoride,” Dr Lester said.
But Barwon Association for Freedom from Fluoridation president Keith Oakley said fluoridation was dangerous because it was medicating people through the water supply.
“The fact is the product is put in the water supply to treat people. That’s something you don’t do because you don’t have any precautionary principle and you can’t control the dosage. You’ve got the very young and the very old and you can’t control the dosage,” he said.
“People have not been given a choice, they can’t avoid it.”
Mr Oakley said fluoride has also been linked to thyroid problems, people needing kidney dialysis and arthritis or fluorosis of the bones.
“There’s only going to be a small proportion of people who are going to have an adverse effect to it but the Government is oblivious to it.
“But it’s a cumulative poison and it cumulates in your bones,” he said.