Source: The Mercury, 17 January, 1997, p3


Aussies'
fluoride
smile
is best

By KATE HANNON
In CANBERRA

AUSTRALIAN children lead
the world in dental health.

   Australian Dental Associ-
ation national executive direc-
tor Rob Butler said the aver-
age Australian 12-year-old 
child had exposed only one 
tooth to decay while two-fifths 
of 12-year-olds had not experi-
enced any decay at all.

   "There's been some im-
provement because there's flu-
oride in toothpaste,improve-
ment in the diet and people 
have generally better dental 
health," Dr Butler said.

   About two-thirds of Aust-
ralians have been exposed to 
fluoridated water, which was
introduced in 1953 at Bea-
consfield in northern Tas-
mania. Hobart was the first
capital city to fluoridate its
water supply in 1964.

   However, Queensland has
lagged behind and its rate of
tooth decay is considerably
higher than other states.

   A new study has revealed
children living in areas with-
out fluoridated water suffer
55% more tooth decay than
children who drink water con-
taining fluoride.

   "Most of the major [Aust-
ralian] centres are fluori-
dated. It's mainly Queensland 
that has stood out and never
done anything about it," Dr 
Butler said.

   While more than 65% of
Australia's population areas
have fluoridated drinking
water, there are still areas, 
such as Brisbane, which do 
not despite clear scientific
evidence demonstrating the
benefits of fluoride.

   The study by four academics
from the University of Ade-
laide and the University of
North Carolina in the US 
found that Brisbane children 
aged between five and 12 
suffered up to 55% more tooth 
decay in their milk or baby 
teeth than children in Towns-
ville, where there is fluoride in 
the drinking water.

   Children in Brisbane also
experienced up to 65% more
dental disease in their adult
teeth than children in
Townsville.

   Brisbane is the only Aust-
ralian capital city where the 
drinking water is not fluori-
dated.

   The study looked at the
dental health of 18,000 chil-
dren aged between five and 12 
during 1991-92. They were
life-time residents of either
Brisbane or Townsville.

   Published in the Australian
and New Zealand Journal of
Public Health, the results re-
affirmed the effectiveness of
fluoride in preventing dental
disease, the authors said.


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