Dental decay in Taumarunui remains much more prevalent than it needs to be and one of the solutions is to put fluoride back into the King Country town’s water supply, says Waikato DHB oral health manager Diane Pevreal.
Talking today at the Ruapehu District Council’s long term planning meeting in Taumarunui, Mrs Pevreal told councillors that tooth decay is a tragic and unnecessary burden affecting a child, their family and it stretches a public health system when the decay is severe.
“An unequitable burden of disease is carried in higher deprivation communities like Taumarunui and in children. The benefits of water fluoridation are greatest in communities with socio-economic disadvantage, for Maori and Pacific and for children, though the entire community can benefit,” she said.
Ruapehu District Council removed fluoride from Taumarunui’s water supply in 2011. It had been in the water since the early 1960s.
The council and the Taumarunui ward committee had shown strong leadership in their unique approach to other local health problems, said Mrs Pevreal.
“Collaborative and sector-leading initiatives such as the Taumarunui health guidance group and Kokiri Trust whanau ora pathway is clearly helping with health issues and an added benefit is it is helping with access to oral health services,” she said.
“In the absence of fluoride, the effect of sugar on our teeth is devastating.
“A cavity takes only 18 months to work its way completely through the protective enamel layer on a permanent tooth. In a fluoridated community this same process of tooth decay takes more than eight years. Studies consistently show that individuals are much less likely to develop decay and will have less decay in their lifetime if they have ongoing access to fluoridated water.
“Water fluoridation reduces severity and prevalence of dental decay. It clearly helps those who are most needy. Water fluoridation is the cornerstone of good oral health.
“It will help deliver greater benefits from the other leading health initiatives you have in place in the Taumarunui area. Unlike any other initiative, fluoridation can reach into every home each day, and it requires absolutely no behaviour change to have a positive effect.
“It deserves its reputation as one of the best public health measures of all time,” said Mrs Pevreal.