CLAIMS fluoride “causes brittle bones” or is too expensive are the reasons some Queensland councils are letting their residents’ teeth rot.
A Queensland Health report from the state’s top dentist Mark Brown showed tooth decay in children was significantly higher in communities without fluoride.
More than 20 councils across the state refuse to add fluoride to the water after the Newman Government gave them the choice in 2012.
Dr Brown said the benefits of fluoride were clear and the report gave local governments that resisted strong evidence that they needed to reconsider.
But it has fallen on deaf ears, with councils standing by their decisions.
South Burnett mayor Wayne Kratzmann said his council voted to stop adding fluoride because no one in region drank the town’s water supply – using it only for showers, washing and gardens – but instead drank from rainwater tanks.
“It was costing a couple of hundred thousand dollars a year, but predominantly no one was drinking that water. The chooks no doubt had good teeth,” Cr Kratzmann said.
Blackall-Tambo mayor Barry Muir said he feared fluoride in the water would cause brittle bones in the residents.
“It might protect your teeth but if you get too much fluoride your bones go brittle so you end up with a real lot of old people who might have good teeth but they can’t move anywhere because their bones are fractured,” he said.
Mount Isa mayor Tony McGrady said the council would not reconsider the issue.
“Simply because a medico with all the good reason in the world makes some statement I don’t believe we have to go rushing back to having the debate again,” he said.
Several council mayors, including those from Barcaldine, Maranoa and Murweh, said there was already naturally occurring fluoride in the town’s bore water, albeit below what is recommended by Queensland Health.
“We’ve all got top teeth here in Barcaldine,” mayor Rob Chandler said.
Cassowary council mayor Bill Shannon said while he personally supported fluoride in drinking water, the council voted against it after the majority of residents surveyed opposed its introduction.
Education Minister and dentist John-Paul Langbroek said while he believed councils should be adding fluoride to the water, he also backed the government’s decision to scrap its mandatory use and instead place the decision in the hands of councils.
“This is something that obviously will help our youngest citizens, those that are able to least help themselves,” Mr Langbroek said.
Local Government Minister and Townsville-based MP David Crisafulli, whose constituents are among those with the best oral health, according to the survey, said he too backed the use of fluoride but would not intervene in the right of councils to decide.
“I come from a city that’s had fluoride in the water for the better part of five decades and today it shows that those results work,” the Mundingburra MP said.