Doctors and dentists are saying Queensland councils, including Mount Isa’s are condemning local communities to “a dental dark age” by failing to fluoridate their public water supplies.
AMA Queensland and the Australian Dental Association Queensland have united to call on Mount Isa City Council to reverse a 2012 decision and immediately commence fluoridating water supplies.
“It is a travesty that this council abandoned fluoridation before the long-term benefits for the community became apparent,” AMA Queensland President Dr Dilip Dhupelia said.
“It remains a safe and very cost-effective way of preventing tooth decay in both children and adults.”
Mount Isa Mayor Joyce McCulloch said that in 2012 Mount Isa was moving towards the introduction of fluoride in accordance with the act before the legislation was scrapped by the then-Newman Government.
“Council at the time held a public vote, with around 900 votes registered, and although the majority voted against having fluoride added to the water supply, the non-compulsory vote required more than 50 per cent of registered voters to take part for the result to be binding,” Cr McCulloch said.
“The decision was then taken back to a council vote, and it was voted unanimously that fluoride would not be added to the water supply in Mount Isa.”
The Mayor said Council would consider the option of adding fluoride to the Mount Isa water supply if the majority of the community wanted it, or if it was required by State legislation.
ADAQ President Professor Laurie Walsh said it beggared belief that so many north-west Queenslanders were being denied such a simple and inexpensive preventative health measure and unfounded myths had no place in any debate about fluoridation.
“Fluoride is a naturally-occurring substance that is found in rocks and filters into water sources - its introduction to drinking water came after researchers noticed lower incidence of tooth decay where fluoride was present in the water supply,” Prof Walsh said.
“Any suggestion that fluoride doesn’t work or causes cancer or chronic illness ignores decades of irrefutable evidence of it being safe as well as effective.”
READ ALSO: Flouride debate flares in Mount Isa (2012)
A three-year UQ study found a 19% reduction in tooth decay in children aged five to nine in Logan-Beaudesert after their water supply was fluoridated.
“Combined with good oral hygiene and nutrition, study after study has shown fluoridation reduces the incidence of tooth decay by as much as 40 per cent,” Professor Walsh said.
“It’s time for Queensland’s councils to heed the overwhelming scientific evidence that supports an immediate return to fluoridation for the good of the community’s oral health.”
Dr Dhupelia said 72 per cent of Queenslanders had access to fluoridated water and it was vital the rest of the state had access to the same preventative health service.
“Fluoridation proved straight forward when introduced a decade ago, and thankfully many councils have seen sense and maintained it but delivering this basic preventative measure to the greatest possible number of Queenslanders should be a top priority for local governments,” he said.