AFTER more than a decade of pushing for fluoride to be added to Bunbury drinking water, local dentists are still watching children as young as five walk in with “devastating bacterial infections” caused by tooth decay.
Australind Dental Centre dentist Dr Tim Crofts said it was worrying to see children that had not reached school age with painful infections which could lead to bacteria “poisoning” their body.
New figures from the West Australian School Dental Service have shown that the rate of decay in Bunbury six-year-olds is still higher than the state average.
Bunbury 12-year-olds’ permanent teeth are decaying at 1.5 times the state average.
Dr Crofts, along with a large group of local dentists, has pushed the government for 10 years to add fluoride to drinking water to help strengthen teeth.
He said community consultations in the past had been largely supportive, but a vocal minority had delayed any progress towards fluoridated water.
“Some people call fluoride a poison, but bacteria caused by tooth decay poisons the body and can lead to swelling, difficulty eating, nausea and in extreme cases, the bacteria can attach to the heart valve and cause clots,” Dr Crofts said.
Close to 500 households across Bunbury, Capel and Dardanup were surveyed by the health department a year ago to find out if residents supported fluoridated drinking water.
The telephone survey took place in August last year, in the same month the Bunbury Mail revealed local children’s teeth were decaying at twice the rate of Perth children.
The results of the survey have not been released and no changes have been made to the local water supply.
Bunbury Oral Care Centre dentist Dr Lam Nguyen said it was concerning that less than 500 people had been surveyed and no action had been taken.
Dr Nguyen urged the community to make their voices heard and create change.
On instruction from the health department, fluoride has never been added to drinking water in Bunbury, Capel or Dardanup.
The only Greater Bunbury towns to receive fluoride are Harvey and Binningup because they are included in Perth’s integrated water supply scheme.
A Fluoridation of Public Water Supplies advisory committee spokesperson said it was well-documented that fluoride improves dental health, but did not give a reason why it is not added to Bunbury water.
Have your say. Do you support the addition of fluoride to Greater Bunbury drinking water? Email firstname.lastname@example.org