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Dental experts renew calls for Cairns to fluoridate water supply

PRESSURE  is  mounting  for Cairns Regional Council to fluoridate the local water supply after calls for state funding were answered.dental laser tips

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk last week committed to reinstating a capped infrastructure grants program for councils wanting to introduce the tooth strengthening chem­i­cal into their drinking water.

Speaking from James Cook University’s inaugural Dentistry Clinical Day on Saturday, Australian Dental Association spokesman Michael Foley des­cribed the funding announcement as a “small, positive step”.

Dr Foley has renewed calls for Cairns Regional Council to support water fluoridation, citing the Queensland Child Oral Health Survey 2010-12, which found children in Townsville, where fluoride was introduced in 1964, had the best dental health in the state.

“My message to Cairns Reg­ional Council is accept that dental health is a problem in Cairns,” he said.

“Dental health in Cairns is a far greater problem than it is in Townsville, just four hours down the road, and I would simply urge Cairns to listen to health experts rather than conspiracy theory fringe groups.

“Certainly the ADA, JCU and Queensland Health are very willing to help and advise council on major scientific and public health matters.”

The council decided to stop fluoride flowing through the city’s taps in 2013 but a recent community survey showed most residents wanted it back.

Mayor Bob Manning is also in favour of water fluoridation.

Dr Foley believes councillors’ reluctance is due to a lack of public health expertise and pressure from “superbly well-connected” but “completely unscientific” anti-fluoride cam­paigners.

Head of dentistry Professor Neil Meredith has once again offered to explain the scientific evidence behind fluoridation after councillors ignored a formal request by Councillor ­Richie Bates for a JCU presentation last month.

“Dental caries (cavities) is a major issue here in this area and fluoridation will access such a large part of the community that will benefit dir­ectly,” said Prof Meredith.

“It will reduce the incidence of pain and disease and it will also potentially save lives bec­ause we see patients up here who are dying of diseases, rheumatic fever, bacterial end­ocarditis, which are indirectly associated with dental decay.”