Govt praised for giving DHBs fluoride responsibility
Dental experts are today praising the Government for placing water fluoridation decisions in the hands of district health boards (DHBs).
It comes after the announcement from Health Minister Jonathon Coleman yesterday.
Around 1.4 million Kiwis have been living without water fluoridation across the country, and New Zealand Dental Association Spokesperson Rob Beaglehole, who works in non-fluoridated Nelson, says it's a major issue.
"When I walked into Nelson Hospital, there were people turning up in pain and suffering from tooth decay. I know that if we had water fluoridation here in Nelson, it would reduce the tooth decay in children by 40 percent.
"We know that the number one reason why children are admitted to hospital is to have their teeth taken out under general anaesthetic -- and this is absolutely heart-breaking."
The fluoridation process does only apply to those on reticulated water systems, leaving those on tank supplies to fend for themselves.
But Mr Beaglehole says the dental association was delighted to see the newly announced transfer to DHBs because water fluoridation is a health issue that should be treated as such.
"DHBs are health authorities and we believe that health authorities should be making the decisions about whether to fluoridate or not."
For those who don't have access to fluoridated water, there are other ways of keeping the cavities at bay.
Mr Beaglehole says the best thing any Kiwi can do is cut back on sugary snacks and brush twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste.
He hopes that DHBs in the currently non-fluoridated areas around the country do push for fluoridation onto those with access to reticulated water.