DENTISTS fear North Queensland children will continue to face unnecessary health concerns after another council voted to stop adding fluoride to its water supply.
Hinchinbrook Shire Council this week voted to stop fluoridation after first introducing it in 2013, joining a growing list of councils opting out of the practice.
James Cook University director of clinical dentistry Professor John Abbott said there was a noticeable difference in dental health outcomes between residents in cities like Cairns, which has stopped using fluoride, and Townsville where it has been used since 1965.
“To some authorities in America it is considered one of the greatest public health measures they’ve had,” he said.
“In Australia the results show that children living in non-fluoridated areas have higher rates of tooth decay than those with fluoride.
“I think in the cities most people believe in it and I don’t understand why in North Queensland people have stopped using it.
“It really flies in the face of all the research that’s been done over the years.”
The Queensland Child Oral Health Survey 2010-2012 found children in Townsville had the lowest prevalence of tooth decay in the state.
About 38.8 per cent of children in the region had cavities in baby teeth, compared to 57.2 per cent for the rest of the Northern Region where fluoridated water is far less common.
Professor Abbott said children had the most to lose from a lack of fluoride in water.
“We see a lot of children as young as four with severe tooth decay and as a result there are a lot more general anaesthetics for that age than there needs to be,” he said.
‘Pregnant women ingesting fluoridated water have it in their developing baby’s teeth so that when they arrive they’re already protected.
“It’s really disappointing when you see children with severe tooth decay when it could all be prevented.”
Mayor Jenny Hill said Townsville would remain committed to fluoridation.
“The latest evidence from the National Health and Medical Research Council shows that at current levels it is a safe and efficient way to reduce dental decay,” she said.
“There is no evidence that Australian levels are associated with other health problems.
“We base our decisions on science and we’ve been doing that since the mid-1960s.”
Cr Hill said the decision by Hinchinbrook Shire Council may not have been about the medical benefits.
“The decision I would say could have been more based on who should pay between the local and state governments,” she said.
• Original article online at http://www.townsvillebulletin.com.au/news/dentists-concerned-over-health-of-children-after-hinchinbrook-shire-council-vote-to-remove-fluoride/news-story/9323348a0295eac7eeeaf179709621d4