HEALTH ISSUE: Dentist Brendan White examines a patient?s teeth while discussing the benefits of fluoride in water.
HEALTH ISSUE: Dentist Brendan White examines a patient?s teeth while discussing the benefits of fluoride in water.

Council considers water fluoridation

By ALEX EASTON

A NEW push to add fluoride to drinking water could revolutionise dental health on the Northern Rivers, a dental association has said.

But opponents fear the move could create its own health crisis, with side effects ranging from discoloured teeth to serious skeletal problems.

Rous County Council will discuss the pros and cons of fluoride in February, after the local branch of the Australian Dental Association asked it to consider the move.

Rous general manager Paul Muldoon said the council had no position on the issue and would not rush into a decision.

Australian Dental Association Far North Coast honorary president, Brendan White, said fluoridated water was the simplest solution to local dental health issues.

The region had high rates of tooth decay and that position was growing worse, with a shortage of dentists, low incomes and an absence of public dental services.

"We are having people flown out of here to Brisbane on the helicopter with facial ab- scesses," Dr White said.

Adding fluoride to the water would boost protection for adults and help children develop stronger teeth, he said.

Anti-fluoride campaigner, former ACT MP and former Main Arm resident, Dennis Stevenson, rejected the claims, describing fluoride as a poison that could actually cause tooth decay through dental fluorosis.

That condition was described by Dr White as a discolouring of teeth caused by taking vast amounts of fluoride and by Mr Stevenson as the first visible sign of a debilitating brittle-bone condition called skeletal fluorosis.

Mr Stevenson said the debate over fluoride ultimately boiled down to choice.

"Only parents have the right to decide if their children should take drugs," he said.



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