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Fluoridation of Gunnedah water supply: Dr Michael Jonas' Letter to the Editor published in Namoi Valley Independent

Fluoridation of Gunnedah water supply: Dr Michael Jonas' Letter to the Editor published in Namoi Valley Independent


As Gunnedah Shire Council consults its community with regard to water fluoridation, Dr Michael Jonas urges influencers to show their support. "...We have the chance to make submissions and speak out in support of fluoridation. Water fluoridation is not just about improving oral health. Water fluoridation is a very cost effective, proven and equitable public health measure that gives everybody a fair go."

Dr Jonas' Letter to the Editor was published in the Namoi Valley Independent this morning:

I have been a dentist for 37 years, working in Gunnedah since 1986, and believe fluoridation of our town water is long overdue.

In that time I’ve seen many, many patients – children and adults – with dental disease that could have been avoided.

With Gunnedah Shire Council consulting the community, we have the chance to make submissions and speak out in support of fluoridation. Water fluoridation is not just about improving oral health. Water fluoridation is a very cost effective, proven and equitable public health measure that gives everybody a fair go.

Fluoridating the water can help reduce tooth decay for all members of the community. The benefit does not depend on how old they are, what their financial situation is or how often they can see a dentist.  Children, the elderly, Indigenous Australians, the socially disadvantaged and people on lower incomes are the most affected by dental decay, and so stand to benefit the most from water fluoridation.

Continuing scientific research that started back in the 1950s shows that water fluoridation reduces tooth decay by 26% to 44% in children and adolescents and 27% in adults.  

Kids in pain with tooth decay can’t sleep. They miss school and can’t concentrate in class. They can’t eat properly. It can affect their speech and the development of their permanent teeth. Kids as young as two and three are still admitted to hospital, put under general anaesthetic, and have teeth extracted because of decay and the resulting abscess.

Dental conditions are the fourth-highest cause of hospital admissions that could have been prevented in our local health district, leading to more than 2,300 hospitalisations in 2015-16.

Dental decay is preventable. The pain it causes is unnecessary. 

The costs of treating it – money spent by individuals, families and as taxpayers through the health system – could be significantly reduced.

Last week, after a comprehensive review of the latest scientific evidence, the National Health and Medical Research Council released a public statement on water fluoridation and human health. It recommends community water fluoridation “as a safe, effective and ethical way to help reduce tooth decay” and says: “There is no reliable evidence of an association between community water fluoridation at current Australian levels and any health problems.”

In NSW, 93 per cent of the population has access to fluoridated water. It’s time the people of Gunnedah got the opportunity to share in the benefits.

Michael Jonas BDS BSc Dip Ed,

Gunnedah