Letter | Examine the dire decay data to decide on fluoride

OBERON’S children have twice the dental decay than those of children in Central West communities with fluoridated water.

This means twice as many fillings and twice as many teeth pulled out.

This is the conclusion from NSW Health, and expert information presented to Oberon Council at a community meeting debating the proposal to fluoridate Oberon’s water supply.

Dental therapist Jenny James said children in Oberon had twice the amount of tooth decay as children in fluoridated Bathurst.

She told the meeting that for 40 years she has been treating children in fluoridated and non-fluoridated communities.

And when it came to dental health, nothing had changed for the children of Oberon in those four decades.

Data from a NSW Health child dental health survey showed that only 18 per cent of Oberon children aged between five and 10 had no missing, filled or decayed baby teeth.

In Orange, where children have been drinking fluoridated water all their lives, this figure was 49 per cent, and 46 per cent in Dubbo, which is also fluoridated.

The data showed Oberon children aged between five and 10 years had an average of 3.8 teeth affected by    decay – more than double the average in Orange (only 1.5 teeth) and in Dubbo (1.7 teeth).

Jenny James told the community that children who needed dental treatment had to take time off school, and their parents had to take time off work – an added stress for families who have other burdens to contend with.

Implementing fluoridation “would be a wonderful legacy for the next generation”, she told the council.

Dentists at the public meetings told the stories behind the bare statistics of decay – the stories of Oberon’s children: the pain they experienced, the distress placed on families.

The meeting heard that water fluoridation has been proven to reduce dental decay in children by up to 44 per cent, and it was time to give the children of Oberon a fair go.

Bob Wilson, Oberon