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Former ADA NSW President Dr Sabrina Manickam applauds council's support for fluoride

7 June 2018

The following article was published by the Central Western Daily on Thursday, 7 June 2018. Orange dentist and former ADA NSW President Dr Sabrina Manickam spoke in support of water fluoridation in light of Oberon's fluoride debate.

'Science is in on fluoride'
Danielle Cetinski, Central Western Daily

An Orange dentist has applauded Orange City Council for backing fluoridated water after a resident called for the treatment to be scrapped.

Christine Brickwood presented to Tuesday’s meeting, saying fluoride had been added to the water supply since the 1960s and it was time for a review.

“People who use fluoridated toothpaste are receiving fluoride,” she said. 

“Ratepayers have not been asked for their decision on whether they want fluoride in their water and they are the ones paying for it.”

Ms Brickwood said while she had only been researching for two months, she was concerned about fluoride build-up in the body and touted impacts on thyroid, brain, skeletal and digestive health.

Research in 2016 from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) found insufficient evidence to suggest fluoride at current Australian levels posed a risk. 

“While there is evidence from any source that fluoridation is a hazard, it should not be a mandatory thing,” Ms Brickwood said. 

Fluoridation has been a hotly contested topic in Oberon, where it is not currently used, and Oberon councillors are yet to make a decision after a Bathurst-based dentist saying her Oberon clients had twice the level of tooth decay.

But Orange council has remained firm on the matter, with spokesman Nick Redmond saying the science was “in on fluoride”.

“Fluoride has been a part of water in Orange since the 1960s, making a significant contribution to public health,” he said.

“The community can have confidence that Orange City Council will continue to supply water which meets the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines and the state government’s water quality standards through the NSW Department of Health.”

He said the NHMRC strongly recommended community water fluoridation as a safe, effective and ethical way to help reduce tooth decay.

Orange dentist and former Australian Dental Association (ADA) president Dr Sabrina Manickam said she was thrilled with the council’s stance on the issue. 

“It’s an absolute no-brainer,” she said. 

“We’re seeing great improvement in decay rates – we haven’t eliminated it but fluoridation makes a difference.”

She said no evidence had been found to suggest fluoride caused other health problems later in life despite ongoing research. 

“I grew up in the ‘70s where the dentist would put fluoride liquid on the teeth for 15 minutes – I swallowed it and I’m fine,” she said. 

“The science continually reflects that – we want to make sure what we say is correct.”

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