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Media release: peak bodies, health organisations support fluoride

A coalition of 13 leading health organisations and peak and professional bodies – including the Australian Dental Association NSW, the Australian Medical Association NSW, the National Rural Health Alliance and the Royal Flying Doctor Service – has written an open letter urging Gunnedah Shire Council to support water fluoridation.

“The signatories to this letter are expert health organisations and peak and professional bodies committed to improving the health of all Australians,” they wrote.

“We write today to express our support for water fluoridation as a safe, cost-effective and equitable public health measure. Good oral health is vital for good overall health, and water fluoridation is the most effective way to reduce tooth decay in all members of the community, regardless of their age, socioeconomic background or ability to access dental care.”

The letter points out that community water fluoridation began in Australia in the 1950s and is supported by every state, territory and federal health department in Australia.

It also highlights the findings of the latest Australian report on water fluoridation, released in November by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), which provides the community with health advice based on the best available scientific evidence.

The report states: “There is no reliable evidence of an association between community water fluoridation at current Australian levels and any health problems” – including cancer, lowered intelligence, hip fracture, osteoporosis, and thyroid problems.

The President of AMA NSW, Professor Brad Frankum, says water fluoridation “is an important and safe public health initiative that helps prevent tooth decay. Cavity prevention is important not just for everyday wellbeing but can be vital for people who don’t have good access to a dentist.”

“The AMA is not alone in supporting water fluoridation – doctors, dentists, health professionals, scientists, and professional bodies are all with us on this,” Professor Frankum says. “This is a very simple, safe thing we can do to improve people’s health.”

Fluoridation is not just a health issue but one of social equity, offering the greatest health benefits to the most disadvantaged members of the community.

“The social determinants of health have a profound effect upon tooth decay,” says Alison Verhoeven, CEO of the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association. “Water fluoridation is the most effective and efficient means to deliver equity in oral health”.

Water fluoridation is also backed by the NSW Council of Social Service, the peak body for health and community services in NSW, which works with and for people experiencing poverty and disadvantage.
About ADA NSW: We are the peak professional association for dentists and dental students in NSW and the ACT,

“We support fluoridation as a key initiative that improves oral health outcomes in communities,” says
NCOSS chief executive Tracy McLeod Howe. “We need to make sure that there is equitable access to
fluoridated water across NSW, particularly for those people less able to access dental services because
of where they live or their financial situation."

Dr Sarah Raphael, a specialist paediatric dentist and the Policy and Advocacy Advisor with ADA NSW,
says fluoride opponents use scare tactics and misinformation to obscure the facts.

Dr Raphael says: “One of the key questions Gunnedah residents should ask is: Why would governments
and peak health authorities worldwide advocate for something that could cause adverse health effects?
They don’t. Reliable scientific evidence has shown over and over again that fluoride in our drinking water
is safe and reduces tooth decay.”

The community has until Friday, 8 December to voice support for water fluoridation online as part of the
public consultation at www.gunnedahfluoride.com.au.

Download the media release
Download the open letter to Gunnedah Shire Council

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