The Taranaki branch of the New Zealand Dental Association (NZDA) has anonymously backed next week’s introduction of fluoride into New Plymouth’s water.
The branch took the unusual step of issuing a media release without attributing any statements because of the “intimidating tactics” of anti-fluoride groups.
Those alleged tactics had left staff at the branch “anxious for their safety” according to a spokesperson, who would not be named.
The statement was released a fortnight after a packed extraordinary meeting of the New Plymouth District Council where a number of people voiced their anger about the director-general of health’s decision to make fluoride compulsory in the water supply.
Following the meeting, NPDC requested the name of one if its employee be removed from a photo caption contained in a media release about fluoride equipment being tested because of the threats he had received.
The Health (Fluoridation of Drinking Water) Amendment Bill, which was passed in November 2021, removed the decision for water fluoridation away from councils.
It is due to be re-introduced into New Plymouth’s water on July 31.
“This was a significant decision because the issue of fluoridation is now no longer subject to postcode variation and local body politics,” the spokesperson for the Taranaki branch of NZDA said.
“Increasing fluoride levels will deliver effective and safe oral health benefits to our residents, especially to our youngest tamariki and those most in need, who are the least able to afford dental care.”
Dental disease continued to be the leading cause of preventable hospitalisations for children across New Zealand, the spokesperson said.
In Taranaki, hospital waiting lists for dental extractions for children had ballooned, with most children now waiting more than 12 months to have their dental treatment undertaken under general anaesthetic.
“We know that around half of New Zealanders currently avoid regular visits to the dentist, many of those due to cost, so with the cost of living continuing to soar, this situation will only worsen, and this number may rise further,” the spokesperson said.
“If no action is taken, this will have a devastating effect on the oral health of our residents.”
*Original full-text article online at: https://www.stuff.co.nz/taranaki-daily-news/news/132605959/dental-association-anonymously-welcomes-fluoride-in-np-water