Fluoride is on its way to Yarrawonga.
Residents of Yarrawonga received copies of a booklet providing information about fluoridated water supplies and the benefit for dental health from Victoria’s Chief Health Officer, Dr John Carnie last week in the first stage of the process.
“The decision to begin this process in Yarrawonga follows support from the local health sector.
There is no public time frame for the fluoride introduction with the DHS offical response “adequate time will be given for residents to express their views before a decision is made.”
DHS officials attending public forums to discuss the merits or otherwise of fluoridation is also out of the quesiton with the DHS stating “The Department, along with peak medical and scientific organisations including the Australian Dental Association, the Australian Medical Association and Dental Health Services Victoria, are unanimously of the view that public debates about the relative scientific merits of particular pieces of research provide little or no value to the members of the public with a genuine interest in learning more about water fluoridation.”
The DHS said it would readily provide additional information to residents if they have questions about fluoridation and urged them to seek advice from their dentist, GP or pharmacist about the benefits of fluoridated drinking water supplies.
The accompanying press release from DHS said the information being made available to North East Water customers on the Yarrawonga water supply about fluoridation follows demonstrated support for fluoridation from Alliance Dental Group, Dr John Charles Dental Surgery, Yarrawonga Denis Medical Group, Yarrawonga District Health Service and Yarrawonga Medical Clinic.
“The fluoridation of water supplies is one of a number of measures being taken to improve the oral health of Victorians. The Government has committed $4.7 million in the 2007-08 budget to improve oral health outcomes for Victorians living in rural and regional areas and for disadvantaged senior Victorians.
“The Budget also contains $1.5 million to extend water fluoridation to regional centres to increase the fluoridation coverage in Victoria from the current level of 78 per cent of the population.
“Along with campaigns to promote regular visits to the dentist, quitting smoking and protecting teeth during contact sports, fluoridation of water supplies is one of the most effective public health measures available to society.
“However, more than 20 per cent of Victorians currently do not benefit from drinking fluoridated water – most of these people live outside metropolitan Melbourne.
“The benefits of fluoridation are illustrated by the fact that six-year-old children living in fluoridated areas of Victoria have up to 36 per cent less tooth decay than those in non-fluoridated areas.
“The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s recent report Australia’s dental generations: the National Survey of Adult Oral Health 2004-06 showed the fluoride generation born after 1970 had about half the level of decay than their parents’ generation by the time they were young adults,” Dr Carnie said.
“Tooth decay is a disease which affects both children and adults and can cause considerable pain and suffering. When severe, tooth decay can affect appearance, self-esteem and social interaction and it can also make it difficult to speak and chew.
“Treating tooth decay can be costly in terms of time and money, and sometimes children may need a general anaesthetic to have their decay treated.
“Water fluoridation helps protect teeth against decay and is the most effective way of allowing everybody access to the benefits of fluoride.
“Scientific studies have shown that water fluoridation is a safe and effective way to reduce tooth decay. The benefits are in addition to those from the widespread use of fluoridated toothpaste.
“Water fluoridation is an effective and inexpensive way to reduce tooth decay in children and adults, and it benefits everyone,” Dr Carnie said.
Dr. Carnie said a constant supply of low levels of fluoride in water acts like a ‘constant repair kit’ for the teeth.
For a copy of the community booklet call 1800 651 723 or visit the web at: http://www.health.vic.gov.au/environment/water/fluoridation.htm
DLP FLUORIDE REFERENDUM BILL INTRODUCED
As the DHS Fluoride information booklet was being delivered to the doors of Yarrawonga residents the Democratic Labor Party (DLP) member for Western Victoria, Peter Kavanagh was introducing a Bill into the parliament to require the government to obtain approval for fluoridation at referenda before adding fluoride to any previously unfluoridated area.
The Bill is likely to be debated in the Legislative Council at the end of this month.
“There are reasons to be concerned about the benefits of fluoridation. My main point however, is that as a matter of democratic principle, local people should determine local issues wherever practicable.
“The DLP was formed in defence of democracy so the control of government by the people is important to us. Elected dictatorship is not equivalent to democracy,” Mr Kavanagh said.
“The Bill would prevent fluoridation unless approval is first obtained at a referendum held, for cost saving reasons, in conjunction with local council elections,” Mr Kavanagh said.
“In order to assist the passing of the Bill, it would be helpful if Victorians were to express support for this motion.”