Fluoride Action Network

Fluoridated water rollout set for 2023 in Bunbury, 55 years after Perth

Source: ABC South West WA | October 26th, 2021 | By Zachary Bruce
Location: Australia

The Australian Dental Association says fluoridated public water is the most equitable way to protect against tooth decay, and while 92 per cent of West Australians have access to this public health service, the state’s biggest regional centre is still waiting.

Plans to add fluoride to the drinking water in the South West community of Bunbury, 175 kilometres south of Perth, have been given a 2023 rollout date more than 50 years after the service was made widely available in the state’s capital.

Australind dentist and former Australian Dental Association WA country councillor Tim Crofts said the 55-year city-country divide was mainly due to the high cost of fluoridation.

“It’s a lot to do with economics,” he said.

“You need a certain size of population to make it economically a good thing to do.

Man smiling seated in front of dentist's chair.
Timothy Crofts believes the cost of fluoridation is behind the delayed rollout.(ABC News)

Massive benefits

But Dr Crofts emphasised that once fluoride was introduced the benefits far outweighed the cost.

“You get a at least a 30 per cent reduction in tooth decay,” he said.

He cited a 2016 Department of Health study of more than 10,000 children that found those from non-fluoridated areas of South West WA were 1.5 times more likely to have decayed or missing teeth than children in Perth who had access to fluoridated water.

Open mouth and dentist's mirror.
A large body of evidence shows the dental benefits of fluoridated drinking water.(ABC News)


“Our peak health body, the National Health and Medical Research Council, has twice conducted systematic reviews,” Dr Crofts said.

Earlier this year the state government set fluoridation target dates of June 2023 for Bunbury and June 2022 for the neighbouring community of Dalyellup.

A spokesperson for WA Health said the Bunbury rollout date reflected the “complex water supply distribution system managed by different service providers that required detailed co-ordination”.

They said the majority of WA communities still waiting for fluoridated water were “small and/or remote communities, or communities where it is not technically feasible to install it.”

*Original article online at https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-10-27/fluoride-in-bunbury-decades-after-perth/100567342?utm_source=abc_news_web&utm_medium=content_shared&utm_campaign=abc_news_web&utm_content=mail