Children in the far north districts of Kaitaia and Kaikohe are facing an increased risk of tooth decay following the recent removal of fluoride from the districts’ reticulated water supplies says the New Zealand School and Community Oral Health Services Society (the Society).
The Far North District Council resolved to remove fluoride from its water supply from 31 March 2009, subject to further consideration and consultation.
The Society has urged the Far North District Council to continue fluoridating the water supplies of Kaitaia and Kaikohe until a consultation process has been completed.
“We believe it is in the interest of the community to maintain the supply of fluoridated water,” says Dr Tim Mackay, specialist in public health dentistry and Society spokesperson.
“Each month the fluoride is turned off the benefits of fluoridation that have already been gained, since the introduction of fluoride in 2006, in Kaitaia and Kaikohe will be lost.
“Water fluoridation is the single most effective, practical and safe means of reducing and controlling the prevalence and severity of dental decay in a community,” says Dr Mackay.
“Research shows the amount and severity of tooth decay experience in these communities will drop between 20% and 30%, especially in children and young people. The benefits of water fluoridation for the general adult population, especially other vulnerable groups such as the elderly and those with special needs, should not be underestimated either.
“Fluoride strengthens baby and adult teeth before they come through the gums by building fluoride into their structure. The main effect, though, is when teeth erupt through the gums. Exposing teeth to small and safe levels of fluoride helps strengthen the tooth surface, and fluoridated water is the best way to achieve this.”
Dr Mackay says, “We appeal to the Far North District Council to take the opportunity during any consultation process to fully explore the benefits fluoride brings to the oral health of their communities.
“On behalf of the full membership of the NZ School and Community Oral Health Services Society we urge the Far North District Council to reconsider its decision to stop fluoridating its reticulated water supplies.”
Note to Editors:
The NZ School and Community Oral Health Services Society is a non-profit dental professional organisation whose main objective is to promote clinical excellence in public dental service provision. This also includes the promotion of strategies that reduce the burden and impact of oral health disease in this country.
The Society’s membership includes clinical and professional leaders of public dental services from every part of New Zealand, including professional leaders in the specialities of public dental health, community dentistry and dental therapy.
The vision of the NZ School and Community Oral Health Services Society is to provide a professional perspective that influences, with wisdom, integrity, collaboration and vision, the policy development and the provision of school dental health services in New Zealand.
The purpose of the Society is to:
• Promote the improvement of oral health in children and youth in New Zealand
• Take a lead role in the promotion of dental public health measures
• Provide a focus for regional and national leadership in dental service provision
• Debate issues influencing the direction on public dental service provision
• Provide professional advice on school dental service provision and other oral health related matters
• Enhance the consistency of quality, access and range of service among providers
• Influence the development of evidence based clinical practice in school dental services by sharing ideas and providing support.