Queensland desperate to stop the rot

The oral health of children in some parts of Queensland is suffering.
The oral health of children in some parts of Queensland is suffering.

After mandatory water fluoridation in Queensland was rolled back by the current State government, the latest report on children’s oral health in that state makes for grim reading. Children who live in areas of Queensland with fluoridated water are experiencing far lower levels of tooth decay, according to the report on the Queensland Child Oral Health Survey 2010-2012. The same can’t be said of children in areas that don’t have fluoridation.

Queensland Health’s Chief Dental Officer, Dr Mark Brown said he hoped local councils who were not currently fluoridating their water supply would reconsider their decision in light of the report’s results.

“Just look at Townsville, which is one of the only places in Queensland that has had the benefit of long-term fluoridation, dating back to 1964,” Dr Brown said.

“Within the four major Queensland regions that were studied, Townsville children had the lowest levels of tooth decay.

“Very substantial differences were seen between the levels of primary tooth decay in Townsville (39 per cent) and the previously non-fluoridated rest of north Queensland (57 per cent).

“Townsville also had lower levels of primary and permanent tooth decay against Brisbane and the rest of south-east Queensland.

“It is extremely disappointing to see that half of the state’s 5-10 year olds have had decay in their primary teeth, and over a quarter of 6-14 year olds have experienced decay in their permanent teeth.”

Speaking to local ABC radio, the LNP Government made it clear it will not reverse its policy despite the report. Local Government Minister David Crisafulli told the ABC local councils asked to be empowered. “Local decisions are always best made by local people,” he said.

However, Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek, who is a dentist, hoped the community took notice of the report.

“We’ve given councils the right to choose but it’s pretty obvious that they should be choosing in my opinion to make sure they can take care of their most vulnerable citizens,” he said.

Shockingly, across Australia dental problems are the major cause of hospital admissions for children up to nine years old.

Queensland Health funded the Queensland Child Oral Health Survey 2010-2012 under a research grant agreement with The University of Adelaide.

It involved clinical oral examinations and parental questionnaires for over 5,000 Queensland children aged 5 to 14 years between 2010 and 2012.


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