Northern NSW compared to Third World

Children's oral health in Northern NSW is suffering because of lack of fluoridation in the water supply.
Children’s oral health in Northern NSW is suffering because of lack of fluoridation in the water supply.

As part of the ADA’s push to convince Federal politicians to pay attention to water fluoridation, newspaper reports last weekend surfaced comparing tooth decay among children in Northern NSW to that among people in Third-World countries.

A Sydney newspaper reported that dentists and paediatricians in Lismore and Ballina say tooth decay among young children is at Third-World levels. The newspaper reported that the situation has prompted the Australian Dental Association to urge the federal government to use its influence to force councils swayed by ”fringe groups who peddle fear … and conspiracy theories” to embrace water fluoridation.

It also quoted Ballina dentist Stephen Enright saying he knew of many children as young as three who had had all or half their rotten teeth removed under general anaesthetic in local hospitals.

”You don’t have to go to Nepal to work in a Third-World environment; you just come to Ballina or Lismore or one of the northern rivers public dental clinics,” Dr Enright told the newspaper.

It also cited figures from NSW Health confirming the rate of hospital admissions for the removal or restoration of teeth among children aged up to four in the Northern NSW Local Health District was 563.5 per 100,000 children a year. In contrast, the average across NSW is 331.1 per 100,000.

This district includes some towns with fluoride but most of the population resides in towns with no fluoridated water, including Lismore, Byron Bay and Ballina. Recently, Lismore voted against adding fluoride to the water, though a motion to reverse that will be debated this month. Ballina Shire Council voted to proceed, defeating anti-fluoride activists.

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