The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists is welcoming the Government’s legislative decision to hand over control of water fluoridation to the Director General of Health but is urging even stronger action to improve the oral health of New Zealanders.
ASMS represents senior doctors and dentists in public hospitals.
Executive Director Sarah Dalton says tooth decay or dental caries is also one of the most prevalent and chronic diseases in New Zealand and today’s decision is a significant step which will make a measurable difference.
“Specialist dental services report increasing numbers of children requiring extractions and complex treatment under a general anaesthetic, due to the terrible state of their oral health.
“Children who experience serious tooth decay also go on to have more health problems as they get older, so fluoridation is a very positive ‘life-course’ approach. Today’s decision will be welcomed not only by dental health professionals, but also by paediatricians and other clinicians who see the impact of tooth decay on many different levels,” she says.
Internationally water fluoridation of drinking water is recognised as one of the top ten public health measures.
Sarah Dalton says giving the Director General of Health decision making power over fluoridation promotes health equity and is also cost-effective when compared to the cost of avoidable dental treatment.
However, she says it is time for even braver action.
“Fluoridation is a very powerful tool in the toolkit. But if we’re serious about improving oral health the Government needs to introduce a sugar tax and a comprehensive package of subsidised dental care for those low income and vulnerable adults who currently have no hope of accessing proper dental care and treatment”.