Top dentist applauds Government's bill to give fluoride decision to Ashley Bloomfield instead of councils

One of Taranakis top dentists says New Plymouth can get out of the dark ages of tooth decay once the decision to add fluoride to the water is taken away from councils.
On Thursday, Associate Health Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall announced the Government was taking the control of water fluoridation away from councils and giving it to health director general Dr Ashley Bloomfield.

The Health (Fluoridation of Drinking Water) Amendment Bill initially proposed decision-making on fluoridation to shift from local authorities to District Health Boards, but an amendment will move that decision to the Director-General of Health.

The Bill was introduced into the House in 2016 and Verrall expected it to pass this year.

* Water fluoridation powers to be taken off councils, giving control to Dr Ashley Bloomfield

The move has been welcomed by New Plymouth District councillor Gordon Brown, who says fluoride needs to be put back in the districts water.

But former councillor Shaun Biesiek, who voted have fluoride removed 10 years ago, said nothing had changed and there was still no evidence that fluoride stopped tooth decay.

New Plymouth mayor Neil Holdom said it was entirely sensible given this was a public health matter.

And the Director General of Health is the appropriate person to make that decision.

If down the track New Plymouth has to put fluoride back in the water the equipment was there, and it would not be a significant cost, Holdom said.

Dr David Antunovic, New Zealand Dental Association (NZDA) Taranaki Branch President, said the Director General of Health will have the resources to make decisions based on the real health benefits that community water fluoridation can provide.

We can now exit the dark ages of unnecessary dental decay and join the renaissance of good oral health for all New Zealanders for life.

The policy had the potential to lead to huge reductions in tooth decay, particularly for children, Antunovic said in an emailed statement.

Dr David Antunovic, New Zealand Dental Association (NZDA) Taranaki Branch President,

Access to community water fluoridation can reduce tooth decay by up to 40 per cent over a lifetime, he said.

In time there should be fewer children needing to have dental treatment under general anaesthetic. It is a huge step to better health for our young patients and our tamariki.

New Plymouth is the only district in Taranaki to not have fluoride.

Biesiek, who did not stand for council in 2019, is still opposed to fluoride.

Ive never seen any evidence fluoridating water fixes tooth decay. Fluoridating the water isnt the issue, its diet. It always has been.

Were in a society where it is cheaper to buy Coca-Cola than water per litre, or any healthy options. Thats the problem.

In 2011 Brown voted to keep fluoride, and he also has not changed his mind.

I applaud the Government for taking it out of the hands of councils, he said.

Therell always be naysayers who get their science from the internet, but the medical experts tell us this is what we need to safeguard our childrens teeth. And this is an obvious step.

New Plymouth is the only district in Taranaki not to have fluoride in the water.

In 2018, South Taranaki District Council (STDC) won a battle to put fluoride in the water that went to the supreme court,

South Taranaki Mayor Phil Nixon said STDC has been advocating for years that decisions related to fluoridating water supplies are about public health and should sit with the medical experts, not councils.

Information and misinformation about fluoridation is massive and complex. There are more than 2 million articles on the internet alone," he said.

I dont know how the average person could realistically distinguish between whats true and what isnt, which is why these decisions should be made by medical professionals who have the expertise to take a scientific, evidence-based approach.


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