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Fluoridated Water the Best Option says Ministry of

Fluoridated Water the Best Option says Ministry of Health

The overwhelming evidence on putting fluoride into water supplies shows its safe, and very effective in preventing tooth decay, Dr Colin Tukuitonga from the Ministry Of Health said today.

His comments follow ongoing efforts to maintain and encourage the fluoridation of water supplies in New Zealand - the latest in Northland where an opinion poll is being held to decide if it should be introduced.

"There is no question that fluoridated water is the most efficient way for communities to reduce and prevent tooth decay. While tooth decay rates have fallen in every region in New Zealand, surveillance has shown that the communities that add fluoride to their water supply see the greatest reductions," said Dr Tukuitonga, Director of Public Health.

He noted that councils have to think about public health considerations when making decisions about water fluoridation. Section 23 of the Health Act ,and section 595 of the Local Government Act state that territorial authorities have responsibilities to provide for the health and well being of the public.

"The World Health Organisation recommends water fluoridation as the best way to improve oral health, major international studies highlight the benefits, and the extensive and ongoing research shows there are no significant adverse health effects from fluoridation."

Dr Tukuitonga highlighted a recent study by the Medical Research Council in the United Kingdom as one of many studies reassuring people about the safety of adding fluoride to the water supply, especially at the levels used in New Zealand of between 0.7 to 1 mg/litre, which are recommended in the New Zealand Drinking Water Standards 2000.

"The benefits of fluoridating water at this level are seen especially in children and those in lower socioeconomic groups. But the community as a whole wins - for example, a report on Preventive Dental Strategies for Older Populations noted that fluoride is the most important preventive measure available against decay for this group."

While praising fluoridation as the best public health measure to prevent tooth decay, Dr Tukuitonga said he couldn't stress enough the need for a healthy diet, and to brush teeth with toothpaste several times a day in order to maintain healthy teeth.

"Getting fluoride from other sources such as toothpaste is important to prevent tooth decay. And of course, a balanced diet that's low in sugar benefits more than just your oral health," he said.

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