Anyone wanting more information about the effects of continuing to add fluoride to Hastings water can get to one of three public meetings hosted by Hawke’s Bay District Health Board this month.
The meetings in Havelock North, Hastings and Flaxmere are an opportunity for members of the public to hear from dental and medical experts and ask their own questions, says HBDHB Chief Executive Kevin Snee.
“We wanted everyone to have the chance to hear the truth about fluoride and that’s why we have chosen three different locations across the district and scheduled two of the meetings after 5pm. We want you to come and hear the facts because next month you will be asked to make a choice.”
In October, as part of the local body elections, voters in Havelock North, Hastings and Flaxmere will be asked to decide if fluoride will continue to be added to the Hastings water supply. Dr Snee says this is an important decision as it affects the oral health of the community.
Hawke’s Bay District Health Board and New Zealand health officials overwhelmingly support community water fluoridation as a cost effective, safe and fair way to protect the community’s oral health. “Water fluoridation benefits all people with natural teeth regardless of age, income or education level. It gives the greatest benefit to children and especially those most at risk of tooth decay.”
Dr Snee says health staff across the hospital and out in the community are fielding dozens of queries about fluoride and understands that those that want to look into water fluoridation can find it confusing. He’s pleased with the level of interest and wants to ensure more people can learn about how fluoridation helps with our own dental health, and that of our children’s.
“My advice to those people is to take heed of the knowledge of reputable health organisations and their experts, and get along to our public meetings.” Speakers include Children’s Commissioner and children’s doctor Russell Wills, and HBDHB Clinical Director for Oral Health Services Dr Robin Whyman.
Mr Snee reiterated that while each year the DHB spends over $3 million on nutritional advice, oral health programmes and even special brush in programmes to encourage children to brush their teeth regularly, fluoridating the water remains the single most cost effective public health measure there is.
“Evidence shows that overall rates of serious tooth decay amongst our children in the Hastings District are 28 percent lower than amongst those in non-fluoridated areas. Why wouldn’t we continue to add fluoride to the water?” he asks.
Since 1954 the Hastings District’s water supply has been fluoridated. Research on fluoride has to be peer reviewed every six months with advice and updates provided to the Ministry of Health on this review. There is 60 years of peer reviewed scientific evidence supporting fluoride.
The meetings are:
Havelock North Community Centre, 30 Te Mata Road, Thursday 12 September, 2-4pm St Johns Hall, 107 Southland Rd, Hastings, Tuesday 17 September, 5-7pm
Age Concern Hall, 38 Bristol Cres, Flaxmere, Tuesday 24 September, 5-7pm