HEALTHY TEETH: Dr Adrian Frick would like to see fluoride introduced in to Bundaberg's water supply to help keep locals' teeth healthy.
HEALTHY TEETH: Dr Adrian Frick would like to see fluoride introduced in to Bundaberg's water supply to help keep locals' teeth healthy. Mike Knott BUN121118FLU1

Dentists bite back on former MP's fluoride claims

BUNDY dentists are putting the heat on Bundaberg Regional Council to introduce fluoride into drinking water, saying locals have some of the worst dental health in the country.

Dentist and Australian Dental Association Queensland branch senior vice president Adrian Frick and former president Michael Foley have responded to former Hinkler MP Brian Courtice's column in the NewsMail last week, in which he slammed fluoridation.

Dr Frick said it was estimated there were almost 5000 hospitalisations a year because of dental complications - and a small number of deaths.

Both denists said Bundaberg was sitting in the "dental dark ages", with fluoride being a proven, safe and effective preventative measure for residents.

"Water fluoridation is very safe. The Australian Medical Association, Australian Dental Association, National Health and Medical Research Council - and every federal, state and territory government urge all towns to fluoridate their drinking water," Dr Frick and Dr Foley said in a joint statement.

"We urge Bundaberg Regional Council, residents and local readers to work with the State Government to ensure that our residents have the same good dental health as the rest of Australia.

Responding to Mr Courtice's query about the potential of fluoride to do harm to locals, Dr Frick and Dr Foley said it would only benefit residents' health in the long term.

"Water fluoridation is a prime example of what all governments should be doing. Few things are more important than public health."

"Directly or indirectly, we all pay for the level of disease in our communities, and it's in all our interests to work towards a healthier Bundaberg.

"The costs of fluoridation are outweighed many times over by saved dental costs."

At optimum levels in drinking water, fluoride can reduce tooth decay by 26-44 per cent in adults and children.

Mr Courtice's also said "the level of fluoride in toothpaste has been reduced by 85 per cent during the past 15 years", something Dr Frick and Dr Foley refuted.

"Apart from the recent introduction of child fluoride toothpaste with 400-500 parts per million of fluoride, the fluoride concentration in most toothpastes ... has not changed in decades."

Health Minister Steven Miles recently called on the council to add fluoride to water "for the sake of the children" in Bundaberg.

A council spokesperson last week said the matter was not before council for consideration.