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ADA NSW President Dr Kathleen Matthews highlights water fluoridation as an important part of oral health

2 February 2021
Port News 


Dental experts have urged Port Macquarie-Hastings Council not to go ahead with a community poll about water fluoridation. Voters will take part in the community poll, to gauge opinion on water fluoridation, in conjunction with the September local government election.

Australian Dental Association NSW president Dr Kathleen Matthews said water fluoridation was the safest and most equitable way to improve oral health in the community.

"We would feel very distressed if the council wanted to remove fluoride as a result of a community poll," she said. Dr Matthews said new research, using data from the National Child Oral Health Study, reported a lack of water fluoridation was among the major factors causing tooth decay among young children.

She said Port Macquarie-Hastings residents would be justified in questioning the expenditure on the community poll. The community poll has a $66,000 cost estimate. Water fluoridation is a controversial topic in the Hastings.
Mayor Peta Pinson continues to support the community poll in conjunction with the election.

"This is nothing to do with the dental association's opinion which is theirs to have," she said.
"I'm more interested in the opinion of the community. They have asked to have their say and I support that very strongly."

Deputy mayor Lisa Intemann said the dental association had of course given its own industry view on water fluoridation.

"The ADA has had the same policy unchanged for about 40 years," she said. Cr Intemann said water fluoridation now seemed actually much more a risk than any real benefit.

"I support council giving our community the chance to see both sides and say yes or no: would you personally prefer that council stop putting hydrofluorosilicic acid in the public water supply?

"Council would not be able to stop fluoridation just from the community poll but at least we would have a better gauge on local opinion when speaking with NSW Health on this issue going forward."

Under the act, a water utility may not cease fluoridation unless the approval or direction is revoked by NSW Health.

A water utility can ask NSW Health to revoke a direction to fluoridate a water supply. Fluoridation began here in February 2012 after the council referred the decision to the state government.

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