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'We're doing right thing by having fluoride in our water'

POSITIVE RESULTS: Flouride in treated water from Wivenhoe Dam is helping the dental health of Ipswich children.
POSITIVE RESULTS: Flouride in treated water from Wivenhoe Dam is helping the dental health of Ipswich children. David Nielsen

A REPORT showing that children who live in areas of Queensland with fluoridated water are experiencing far lower levels of tooth decay has been welcomed by Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale.

The Ipswich water supply, along with Brisbane's, comes from Wivenhoe Dam and is treated with fluoride at the Mt Crosby water treatment plant.

The Ipswich City Council is often written to by anti-fluoride campaigners who warn of the dangers of fluoride

But a newly released report on the Queensland Child Oral Health Survey 2010-2012 highlights the benefits of fluoridating water to children.

Queensland Health's Chief Dental Officer Dr Mark Brown said he hoped the report would encourage local councils who were not currently fluoridating their water supply to take the step in the best interests of their communities.

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"Just look at Townsville, which is one of the only places in Queensland that has had the benefit of long-term fluoridation, dating back to 1964," he said.

"Within the four major Queensland regions that were studied, Townsville children had the lowest levels of tooth decay.

"Very substantial differences were seen between the levels of primary tooth decay in Townsville (39 %) and the previously non-fluoridated rest of north Queensland (57 %).

"Townsville also had lower levels of primary and permanent tooth decay against Brisbane and the rest of south-east Queensland.

"It is extremely disappointing to see that half of the state's 5-10 year olds have had decay in their primary teeth, and over a quarter of 6-14 year olds have experienced decay in their permanent teeth."

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Cr Pisasale said he was "pleased the report has come out because it shows we are doing the right thing".

"We've got fluoride in our water, so we are one of the fortunate ones," he said.

"There has been a big debate, for and against.

"Some people don't want chemicals in their water, but the health authorities and dental association say that flouride is fantastic.

"From my point of view, if you don't want fluoride you can buy bottled water.

"There is an organisation that keeps e-mailing councillors with regard to taking fluoride out.

"A lot of people want us to take it out, but we can't because we are on the same pipeline as Brisbane.

"For us to take the fluoride out we would have to put new pipes in.

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"Brisbane is not going to poison its people, and from all the research we have seen it shows that it is good for kids to have fluoride, especially if they grow up with it.

The report showed that 14.3 % of Queensland children first visited a dental provider when they already had a problem.

"One in three children aged 5-6-years-old had never visited a dentist," Mr Brown said.

"It is therefore recommended that children have a dental check by the age of two, as this can identify early stages of tooth decay.

"However, at present, the identification of a child with advanced primary tooth decay occurs mostly at ages four and five and is in association with a dental visit prompted by pain."

FLUORIDE FACTS

  • Queenslanders have the highest levels of tooth decay and the lowest level of access to water fluoridation in Australia.
  • Fluoride is a naturally occurring compound found in water, plants, rocks, soil, air and foods.
  • Topping up fluoride levels in water can reduce the risk of dental decay by up to 40%.

Topics:  fluoride mayor paul pisasale



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