Research and survey results released today by the Northland District Health Board conclude that children living in areas with water fluoridation experienced additional oral health benefits.

Due to these results the New Zealand School and Community Oral Health Services Society (the Society) is urging the Far North District Council to begin fluoridating the Kaitaia and Kaikohe water supplies again.

Society Vice President, Barbara Dewson says, “Despite areas in the Far North only having water fluoridation for two years the results are favourable. Significant water fluoridation benefits are normally only seen after four to five years, however in this study some beneficial effects were observed in high risk populations within two years of water fluoridation being introduced.”

The study was commissioned by the Northland District Health Board, the Ministry of Health and the New Zealand Dental Association to monitor the oral heath status of children in fluoridated and non-fluoridated areas of Northland.

Ms Dewson says, “The Far North District Council fluoridated the Kaitaia and Kaikohe water supplies in April 2007, but then surprisingly removed it again on March 31st 2009. The council indicated their previous resolutions meant fluoridation had to be stopped after a two year ‘trial’ period, pending the results of Northland District Health Board’s monitoring survey and further consultation with the community.

“In 2007 we commended the Far North District Council for fluoridating the towns of Kaitaia and Kaikohe, however we were extremely disappointed earlier this year when the council removed it so unexpectedly right on the two year mark, without waiting for the results of the survey.

“This sudden and prolonged interruption to the water fluoridation programme means that many of the benefits of the last two years may have already been lost.

“The Far North District Council chose to ignore the advice of specialist dental public health professionals that accumulative oral health benefits would be lost quickly in their communities if water fluoridation was stopped even temporarily.

“We believe a far better decision would have been to leave water fluoridation in while waiting for the Northland District Health Board’s survey results and seeking further consultation with the community,” says Ms Dewson.

The study concluded and reiterated that water fluoridation is effective in reducing cavities, especially in a child population with rates of tooth decay which are extremely high by modern standards.

Ms Dewson says ” If the Far North District Council respond positively and reintroduce water fluoridation (at the safe and effective level of 0.7 parts per million) into Kaitaia and Kaikohe soon, then research shows we can expect a drop of up to 30% in dental decay levels in children living in these areas after four years. This is compelling.”

For further information –a pdf of the pre and post fluoridation report will be available on the Northern District Health Board