QUEENSLAND is to join the rest of Australia’s states and territories in adding fluoride to its water supply.
Premier Anna Bligh said the move would tackle the poor condition of Queenslanders’ oral health.
Ms Bligh said 80 per cent of Queenslanders would be drinking fluoridated water within two years, growing to more than 90 per cent by 2012.
“Together with oral hygiene and good nutrition, fluoridation has been proven to reduce tooth decay by up to 40 per cent, and a Smart State cannot ignore the extensive scientific evidence that shows fluoridation is the missing link in Queensland’s oral health system,” Ms Bligh said.
Queensland’s five to 12-year olds had twice the tooth decay compared to children in the ACT, which introduced fluoridation in 1964.
“Research has shown that Queensland six-year olds have nearly 30 per cent more decay in their baby teeth than the national average, with a similar result for permanent teeth in 12-year olds,” Ms Bligh said.
The north Queensland city of Townsville, which has fluoridation, has 65 per cent lower tooth decay rates in children than Brisbane.
The government will spend $35 million on capital works to roll out the program to ensure that more than 90 per cent of Queenslanders would have access to fluoridated water by 2012.
Council water rates would rise by about $1.50 per person each year to cover ongoing operational costs, Ms Bligh said.
“This is a nominal cost when compared to what families could save in dental bills,” Ms Bligh said.
She said the decision was based on scientific evidence, public support, the state of Queenslanders’ oral health, and the timing of the government’s water reforms.
Fluoridation involves a small amount of fluoride being added to top up the natural levels already in water.
This equates to between 0.6 and 0.9 parts of fluoride per million parts of water – roughly equating to one drop in a bathtub of water.