POLL: Should Rocky and Livingstone put fluoride in water?
ROCKHAMPTON Regional and Livingstone Shire Councils are under fire by dental health organisations for a 2012 decision to remove fluoride from local water supplies.
AMA Queensland and the Australian Dental Association Queensland (ADAQ) are urging the councils to reconsider their stance and re-introduce water fluoridation, citing health concerns.
"It is a travesty that these 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."
Should Rockhampton and Livingstone councils fluoridate their public water supplies?
This poll ended on 21 September 2018.
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
Rockhampton Regional Council was among the first to opt out of fluoridation after the 2012 legislative amendment repealing the mandatory obligation to fluoridate public, potable water supplies that serviced at least 1000 people.
Rockhampton Region in 2012 included the current Livingstone Shire.
ADAQ President Professor Laurie Walsh said it beggared belief that so many Central Queenslanders were being denied such a simple and inexpensive preventative health measure (around 60 cents a person).
Professor Walsh said myths about the effects of fluoridation had no place in any debate.
"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 study from the University of Queensland 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," 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 important that 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," Dr Dhupelia Said.
A Rockhampton dental hygienist, who declined to be named due to the "controversial" nature of the topic, said she supported fluoridisation in Rockhampton.
"I personally think it's a positive thing," she said.
"It's not so much about exposing every single person to fluoride but exposing certain populations who have restricted resources and knowledge about appropriate dental hygiene.
"Exposure to fluoride over time strengthens enamel and reduces decay... and reduce the risk of extractions.
"When teeth first rupture they are very vulnerable and haven't been exposed to fluoride... so it's good for the younger demographic."
However, she stated that those with excellent oral hygiene may not see any effects and could easily source a fluoride filter to eliminate it.
"Maybe in 20 years there will be better research to support the negatives but at the moment there's not enough research to support them," she said.
Before amalgamation, Livingstone Shire Council had agreed to fluoride water at the Woodbury Water Treatment Plant.
Livingstone mayor, Bill Ludwig said the equipment was all in place at Woodbury to fluoridate the water, but the regional council decided not to continue with it.
He said he understands the issue is a contentious one but he has always supported fluoridation.
"It now means - because we have two different sources of water, some from Rockhampton and some from Water Park Creek - it's not impossible, but it's very challenging for us to fluoridate if Rockhampton isn't," Cr Ludwig said.
"We still have the equipment at Woodbury, but we can't have fluoridated water coming together with unfluoridated water.
"Our hands are tied unless Rockhampton also decides to fluoridate."
Rockhampton Regional Council (RCC) was contacted late yesterday afternoon for a response and declined to comment.