Councillor Simon Clough.
Councillor Simon Clough. Patrick Gorbunovs

Fluoride is ‘a matter of choice’

THE case for not putting fluoride in drinking water supplies seems to come down to one of choice.

In summing up his reasons for supporting a motion for Lismore to opt out of putting fluoride in the drinking water supply, Cr Simon Clough called it a "civil rights" issue. He said there were substantial numbers of people who did not want it and once it was in the water supply; there was no way to filter it out.

Byron has already opted not to fluoridate, and Ballina will revisit the issue at its next council meeting.

But what about those who do want fluoride?

The little pink fluoride pills that were available at every chemist have been taken off the shelves because of low demand.

Colgate Palmolive said they stopped making the tablets about four years ago, citing low demand due to the increased availability of fluoride in the drinking water supply in most parts of Australia and have no plans to reintroduce them.

A quick ring around some chemists in the region found that most don't have any fluoride products, other than toothpaste.

But Blooms Chemists in Keen St said they should be able to get fluoride in a raw material form and make it into drops or capsules if people wanted it.

The Health Department's principal adviser on oral health, Shanti Sivaneswaran said fluoride tablets were not recommended any more.

"They were found not to be effective," she said.

"The action of the tablet is quite different to that of fluoridated water. What it does is cause peaking of plasma fluoride levels which is responsible for causing dental fluorosis (colouring of the tooth) because you are getting a dose of one milligram from a tablet. With water fluoridation you are drinking it at one part per million and it gets in to the saliva glands which is what helps prevent tooth decay."

Ms Sivaneswaran said the best advice for people without access to fluoridated water is to make sure it is being applied at the surface of the teeth (topically) with a toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.

She said fluoridated water was "the cornerstone of preventing dental decay" and if it was not available, parents needed to be extra vigilant with kids' brushing and if needed, take them to a dentist for a topical application.



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