GEELONG general practitioners have backed fluoridation of the city’s water supply and expect benefits to reach far beyond improved oral health.
The GP Association of Geelong is one of a dozen health and welfare organisations to have endorsed fluoridation for the city as the State Government prepares to distribute education booklets to residents.
GPs believe fluoridation will help improve general health and will particularly benefit lower socio-economic areas.
Barwon Health, Bethany Community Support, Committee for Geelong, Glastonbury Child and Family Services and Corio-Norlane Neighbourhood Renewal group have also flagged support for fluoride.
Victoria’s chief health officer Dr John Carnie said the booklets would provide balanced, factual information.
“The decision to begin this process in Geelong follows support from the local health sector,” Dr Carnie said.
State Government plans to link Geelong to Melbourne water supply would introduce fluoridated water to the city.
Dr Carnie said the fluoride content needed to be one part per million to be beneficial.
GP Association spokesman Dr Mark Kennedy said benefits were more than cosmetic.
Problems like chronic mouth infections could cause difficulties in managing illnesses like diabetes and might lead to problems with heart valve infection.
“And we often see that patients who are unable to access regular dental services rely on their GPs for treating dental infections rather than having their teeth filled or removed,” Dr Kennedy said.
“That’s certainly a problem in poorer areas rather than areas where people will access dental services.”
Dr Kennedy is also health and wellbeing spokesman for Corio-Norlane Neighbourhood Renewal group.
He said poorer socio-economic areas of the city stood to gain most from fluoridation.
“I’ve been working in the area for the past 20 years and certainly the state of oral health in areas where people can’t afford and have much less access to oral health treatment is more noticeable than in areas where people are able to access services,” Dr Kennedy said.
Dr Carnie said a National Health and Medical Research Council review had confirmed that fluoridation of drinking water remained the most effective and socially equal way of providing all community members with benefits.
“The benefits of fluoridation are illustrated by the fact that six-year-old children living in fluoridated areas of Victoria have up to 36 per cent less tooth decay than those in non-fluoridated areas,” Dr Carnie said.