One of the more eye-catching pieces of news in recent days was the call from doctors and dentist organisations for Queensland councils including Mount Isa City Council to flouridate their water supply.
The call from AMA Queensland and the Australian Dental Association Queensland used very strong language said saying many Queensland councils, including Mount Isa’s were condemning local communities to “a dental dark age” by failing to fluoridate their public water supplies.
They called flouridation a “simple and inexpensive preventative health measure” and said it cost “as little as 60 cents per person per year” though provided no figures to back this claim.
The costs may be debatable but the health benefits are undeniable and in New South Wales fluoride is added to the water supply at a level of 1 milligram per litre in line with the National Health and Medical Research Council recommendations.
In Queensland the problems date back to a 2012 legislative amendment which handed Queensland councils the power to cease fluoridation.
Mount Isa City Council has never flouridated its water but the previous Labor Bligh government had mandated all councils to commence flouridation.
However in Mount Isa as well as other places there was a great deal of public anxiety and concerns about “chemicals” added to the water.
The new Newman government then reversed the earlier decision handing the decision back to local councils.
Mount Isa held a public vote which went against fluoridation but was not binding because it was less than 50% turnout.
In 2013 the council voted unanimously that fluoride would not be added to the water supply though it says now it would consider the option if the community wanted it, or if it was required by state legislation.
Our poll of readers is split down the middle with 50-50 for and against with 160 votes.
For me flouridation is a no brainer. It is safe, saves on expensive dental visits and prevents tooth decay – especially in children.
But clearly much public education needs to be done to overcome the widespread “yuck” factor – Derek Barry