Water fluoridation has been around in Australia since the 1950s. Currently, most of Australia has a fluoridated drinking water supply. However, there are councils in Australia that are now actively getting rid of fluoride from their drinking water and it is becoming a popular trend in some territories such as Queensland.
Understanding Water Fluoridation
Water fluoridation has been done in Australia for close to seven decades. It refers to the process of adding some fluoride to the drinking water with the purpose of reducing tooth decay. Water fluoridation affords a mass number of people access to the benefits of fluoridation on dental health.
The tooth decay occurs as a result of the wearing off the tooth enamel and the underlying layer by acid that is produced by the bacteria present in the mouth. Severe tooth decay not only causes pain and suffering but it also dents your self-esteem and confidence. Tooth decay makes chewing needlessly difficult and painful. While it is still treatable up to a certain level of attrition; treatment is generally costly. So for many public health officials and policy-makers, prevention is often better than cure. The fluoridation in the drinking water supply works to gradually strengthen the tooth enamel and reduce the incidence of tooth decay in the population.
Water fluoridation is both safe and effective in reducing tooth decay but isolated studies have linked high levels of fluoride in drinking water to low IQ in kids.
Water Fluoridation in Melbourne
90% of the drinking water in Melbourne and the greater Victoria is fluoridated, either by naturally occurring fluoride or through the fluoride added by the water companies in Victoria. Fluoridated water has been used in Melbourne for more than 30 years.
Despite the widespread concerns, the fluoride levels in Melbourne and Victoria’s drinking water has been certified as safe by health officials. The main water supplier in Melbourne, Melbourne Water, adds less them milligram of fluoride for every litre of water. The fluoridation is a requirement by the health laws in the territory of Victoria.
Why are some groups anti-fluoridation?
Despite the well documented benefits of adding fluoride to drinking water, there are still well organized groups in Australia that are anti-fluoride. Many claim that fluoridation weakens bones, leads to fluorosis, cancer and various other health problems. However, there is no scientific or empirical basis for many of these claims.
Fluoride in Melbourne is at safe levels
Due to the legal requirement, Melbourne has a fairly good coverage when it comes to fluoridated water. 90% of communities in the city have access to drinking water with fluoride. In Melbourne, the fluoride level is at a maximum of 1 part per million. This is the WHO recommended fluoride concentration for drinking water. It is in fact much lower than the amount of fluoride that is found in the children’s toothpaste which currently stands at 400 to 500 parts per million. Children’s toothpaste in fact has more than 400 times the amount of fluoride found in drinking water.
Given its low concentrations and the public health benefit of having fluoride in water, there is a strong imperative to continue supplying the general public with fluoridated water.