Northern Rivers general practitioners are urging a more respectful debate over water fluoridation, saying both advocates and opponents of fluoride should argue their cases calmly and take due account of the evidence-based science about the issue.

The Board chair of the Northern Rivers General Practice Network (NRGPN), Dr David Guest, confirmed his colleagues’ position that “appropriate fluoride treatment is a safe and economical way of safeguarding oral health and reducing associated medical problems.”

However, Dr Guest recognised that a significant number of Lismore and Byron Shire residents hold a different view, and this is why both Councils will be holding briefings for councillors and staff (3 Dec, and 24 Oct respectively). Also, a community meeting is planned for Byron Community Centre this Wednesday 16 October, at 6.30 pm.

“As with any significant community issue, open and honest discussion is important, but the subject of whether or not to fluoridate has become too heated and tended to stray from the known facts,” Dr Guest added.

“It now appears that Lismore is committed to fluoridation, while Byron may be reconsidering its opposition.

“To their credit, both Councils are seeking input from representatives of the ‘for’ and ‘against’ cases, and it is essential for the evidence-based science to be heard.

“We’re dealing with facts, not opinions, and the facts are that fluoride is the best way of protecting the community’s oral health. The residents of the local government areas that still lack a fluoridated water supply are the ones to suffer,” Dr Guest said.

“It is no coincidence that the North Coast has the worst oral health in NSW, and this is compounded by people with generally low incomes being unable to afford the remedial dental care they need.

“As GPs, we know poor oral health causes considerable suffering for adults and children, and has a knock-on effect with other health issues, including cardiac problems which are often linked to gum disease.

“The NRGPN Board has agreed that fluoridation at recommended levels is the best way of preventing dental disease, and this long-running issue should be put to rest once and for all.”

Media contact: Robin Osborne – 0409 984 488