Extensive research has demonstrated that water fluoridation reduces tooth decay in children and adults by around 25 percent. Fluoridation is recognised as one of the most significant public health initiatives over the past century.
Each year over 6000 children and teenagers are admitted to hospital for dental treatment. A significant number of pre-schoolers need a general anaesthetic to remove rotten teeth, sometimes reduced to black, decayed stumps with nothing but the tops of the roots left. Some toddlers need all their teeth removed.
Along with too much sugar and a lack of dental hygiene, failure to flouridate the water supply is a significant factor in tooth decay for children.
The La Trobe University study found that hospitalisation rates for children for dental causes are much higher for rural towns in Victoria without fluoridated water.
The drinking water for Daylesford and Hepburn Springs is treated at Wombat Hill. It goes through a process of coagulation, flocculation and sedimentation to remove sand and particles before being filtered and then disinfected with chlorine to prevent infections and the spread of disease.
In Victoria, 90 percent of the population has fluoridated water. It would cost less than a dollar per person per year to add fluoride treatment to the local water supply, with significant benefits for oral health and very few risks. Fluoride could easily be added as part of the treatment process.
The La Trobe study also found that community-based approaches can be used to successfully lobby for increased access to fluoridated water in rural communities.
The Secretary of the Department of Health, Dr Euan Wallace, an obstetrician, has the power to decide whether or not a water authority adds fluoride to the water supply.