14 September 2016

Minister for Health: New WA study confirms fluoride dental benefits

An extensive new Western Australian study highlights the positive impact of water fluoridation on children's oral health.

Releasing the Dental Health Outcomes of Children Residing in Fluoridated and Non-Fluoridated Areas of Western Australia report today, Health Minister John Day said it revealed children from unfluoridated areas were at 1.6 times the risk of having one or more decayed, missing or filled permanent teeth, compared with children drinking fluoridated water.

"The bottom line is that water fluoridation works and remains our single most important public health measure to combat tooth decay," Mr Day said. "These results support the findings of similar studies around the world.

"As a former dentist, I know only too well the impact of tooth decay. As well as pain, infection and tooth loss, it can disrupt eating, sleeping and social interaction. Ongoing oral infections are associated with heart and lung disease, stroke and poor pregnancy outcomes."

The study also found that fluoride reduced decay in the very young, with children from unfluoridated areas at 1.5 times the risk having one or more decayed, missing or filled deciduous (baby) teeth.

With more than 92 per cent of West Australians having access to fluoridated water, only small pockets of the State remain unfluoridated.

The study examined the oral health of nearly 11,000 children aged five to 12 years who attended Government dental centres in 2011-12, comparing the results from the fluoridated Perth metropolitan area with unfluoridated centres in the South-West.

The Minister said the Liberal National Government was committed to spreading the benefits of fluoridation right across WA.

"We have recently brought fluoridated water to Moora, Dongara and Port Denison," he said. "Port Hedland is expected to have fluoridated water by the end of 2016, with Newman, Kununurra and Yanchep due to come on line in 2017."

Read the Dental Health Outcomes of Children Residing in Fluoridated and Non-Fluoridated Areas of Western Australia report.