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Water fluoridation is when the natural fluoride level in our water supply is topped up with just enough fluoride to help protect our teeth from decay.

Everyone with their own teeth benefits from having fluoride in the water.

Water fluoridation is supported by international, national and local health organisations and there is more than 60 years of extensive scientific study to support its safety.

The vast majority of medical and dental experts recommend water fluoridation because:

  • Water fluoridation is safe. The science is clear that the level used for water fluoridation in New Zealand is safe.  Too much of anything that the body needs, like salt, sunlight or fluoride, can cause harm.  There is no risk of getting too much fluoride from drinking fluoridated water.

  • Water fluoridation is effective. Sixty years of research shows that water fluoridation helps prevent tooth decay.  Along with brushing twice a day, choosing low sugar foods and drinks, and having regular dental checkups, water fluoridation helps to protect our teeth and provides lifelong benefits.  The NZ Oral Health Survey (2009) showed that children and adolescents in fluoridated areas had, on average, 40% less tooth decay than those in non-fluoridated areas.

  • Water fluoridation is natural.  When fluoride, in the form of hydrofluorosilicic acid, is added to water it is the same as naturally occurring fluoride.

  • Water fluoridation is fair. Everyone with their own teeth benefits from water fluoridation, especially the young and those who find it more difficult to afford dental care and checkups.

  • It's about community. If we do not have water fluoridation, our children and especially those disadvantaged in our community will suffer more tooth decay.  It is our duty to help look after the health of everyone in our communities.

In New Zealand, local Councils can make decisions about whether drinking water supplies in their districts are fluoridated or not. The Bay of Plenty District Health Board and Lakes District Health Board are the principal health advisor to Councils within their boundaries and have a statutory responsibility to advise Councils on public health issues.

In April 2016 the government announced proposed changes to the law to allow district health boards to decide which community water supplies are fluoridated in their areas.  This decision is currently made by local Councils.  For more information visit the Ministry of Health website.

Recommended links and references for further information on the safety and effectiveness of fluoridation:

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