NSW Chief Health Officer to make fluoride pitch to Lismore

NSW Chief Health Officer Kerrie Chant will address Lismore Council tomorrow to try to convince them that fluoride is a safe and important public health initiative.

Dr Chant said it was important NSW Health made their position clear to councillors that fluoridating the drinking water supply was the most "socially equitable way to expose people to the benefits of fluoride".

She said Lismore had a rate of hospital admissions for the removal of teeth in children aged 0-4 that was more than double the NSW average. "That's in that group of very young children who can't sit in a dentist's chair to have teeth removed and have to have them removed under anaesthetic, but one of the important things for the community to realise is that the benefits (of fluoride) accrue not only in children, but in adults as well," Dr Chant said.

She said it was "quite appropriate" for there to be a debate in the community, but that the NSW Department of Health had a role to provide the community with accurate, reliable information.

Also addressing Lismore Council will be prominent local doctor Sue Page, who compared the misinformation campaign around fluoride with that of the anti-vaccination lobby.

"We live in an area where there is perhaps a higher concentration of alternative view points, but the level of misinformation that is on the internet and being sent to people is at the point where I think it is mischievous and wrong."

Dr Page has been a strong advocate for fluoridation for many years after seeing "so many kids with really bad teeth".

She said higher rates of tooth decay were common in lower socio-economic regions, but the levels occurring here were far worse than compar- able areas with fluoride.

"Having looked at the research, nothing is as effective at improving the teeth of low-income families as fluoride in the drinking water. It's a no-brainer," she said.



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