September 19, 2018
Medical groups accused the South Burnett Regional Council on Wednesday of condemning residents “to a dental dark age” by failing to fluoridate the local water supply.
AMA Queensland and the Australian Dental Association Queensland (ADAQ) called on the SBRC – and the Bundaberg, Fraser Coast and North Burnett councils – to “end fluoride foolishness” and immediately begin fluoridating water supplies.
South Burnett councillors voted unanimously in January 2013 to end fluoridation, partly because of the cost and partly because they believed few people actually drank town water.
The decision was expected to save between $170,000 and $200,000 a year.
A 2007 report commissioned by the former Kingaroy Shire Council found that 69 per cent of Kingaroy residents rated the taste of the water supply as “very poor”; a further 23 per cent rated it as “poor”; and most used tank water or other water sources for drinking.
The region was forced to fluoridate town water supplies in 2008 after the then-Labor State Government made the practice mandatory in Queensland.
Five fluoride plants were installed in the region by the State Government at a cost of $2 million but the Council had to pay for their ongoing operation and maintenance.
The law was changed in 2012 and the SBRC was quick to act.
However, the AMA and ADAQ have pointed to the dental health benefits of fluoridation.
“It is a travesty that councils 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.”
The medical groups say fluoridation costs as little as 60 cents per person per year.
ADAQ President Professor Laurie Walsh said it beggared belief so many people in the region were being denied such a simple and inexpensive preventative health measure.
Prof Walsh said 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; in fact, its introduction to drinking water came after researchers noticed lower incidence of tooth decay where fluoride was present in the water supply,” he 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.”
A three-year University of Queensland study found a 19 per cent reduction in tooth decay among children aged between five and nine in the Logan-Beaudesert region 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,” Prof Walsh said.