Thumbs up for fluoride in government report

AN information paper put out by the Federal Government’s National Health and Medical Research Council has given fluoride in our water supply a big tick.

Tumut has had fluoride in its water supply (in the town itself, not in all the surrounding areas) since 2012 and Tumut dentist Dr Khumo Tlhalerwa agrees it is beneficial. The information paper explores the potential link between water fluoridation and human health based on the findings of the 2016 NHMRC Evidence Evaluation.

“The evidence shows that water fluoridation helps to reduce tooth decay in children and adults,” it states.

“There is no reliable evidence that water fluoridation at current Australian levels causes health problems.

“Water fluoridation at current Australian levels is associated with dental fluorosis. In Australia, however, most dental fluorosis is very mild or mild, does not affect the function of teeth and is not of aesthetic concern to those who have it.

“There is evidence that water fluoridation at current Australian levels is not associated with cognitive dysfunction, lowered IQ, cancer, hip fracture and Down syndrome. There is no reliable evidence of an association between water fluoridation at current Australian levels and other human health outcomes.”

Dr Tlhalerwa said he had only been in Tumut for three years, and what he said would be based on his clinical experience in that time, but said that one of his staff had noticed the difference fluoride had made.

“One of our staff members worked between Tumut and Gundagai a few years ago and she did mention to me that there was so much tooth decay in Tumut compared to Gundagai; however ever since she came back to Tumut in 2012 she is noticing a lot of improvement,” he said.

“Most of the rampant decay that we find in younger patients in Tumut we often find that they don’t have access to fluoride water, and most are from middle income families, living on a farm or just outside town and this eliminates the element of socioeconomic status as a major contributing factor to their decayed teeth. Once the family is aware of what is lacking and  we put measures in place for their regular checkup, it is amazing the difference it can make by just application of topical fluoride to early decay, and often it saves both the patient and us from doing a filling.

“As for the debate from those that are anti-water-fluoridation- its difficult to reason or have a common ground with them because essentially they cherry pick the studies they believe back their cases, and the problem is most cases is these studies are methodologically weak. They ignore majority of larger, higher quality studies. It’s a subject very similar to immunisation.”