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Fluoridated water for Queensland ... at last

Griffith University’s School of Dentistry and Oral Health welcomes the Queensland Government’s decision to introduce fluoride into the public drinking water – a measure endorsed by all major international and Australian health bodies as the best way to prevent dental decay.

The decision will ensure that 80 per cent of Queenslanders will be drinking fluoridated water within two years, and more than 90 per cent of the state’s population by 2012.

Associate Professor Jeroen Kroon, an expert in Public Health, Community and Preventative Dentistry, said the decision was long overdue given that other areas of Australia have benefited from fluoridated water for more than 40 years.

“The absence of this essential community-based preventive measure against dental decay has resulted in the oral health status of Queenslanders being much worse than residents in other States and Territories.”

He said Queensland children have up to double the amount of tooth decay compared to the rest of Australia. Dental decay was also up to 65 percent lower in Townsville, a Queensland city which has fluoridated water, than in Brisbane.

“The evidence is overwhelming that major benefits are obtained when tooth surfaces are exposed to fluoride on a daily basis.”

“Fluoridation of drinking water allows fluoride to be taken up by tooth enamel, improve the chemical structure, and create a more resistant surface against acid attack and dental decay,” he said.

He said there was no credible scientific evidence that fluoride causes any adverse health effects when supplied up to the optimum level of one milligram per litre.

“This decision benefits everyone, irrespective of age, culture or income. Water fluoridation provides additional protection against dental decay even for those families already using other fluoride products to protect teeth.”

He said the population benefits of water fluoridation increased with duration of exposure, so the real winners will be the future generations of Queenslanders.

Associate Professor Kroon said maintaining good oral hygiene and nutrition was still essential for oral health and that these preventive measures would be enhanced by the introduction of water fluoridation.

Jeroen Kroon | EurekAlert!
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