Bay of Plenty District Health Board's chief executive Helen Mason says she is disappointed with the Whakatane District Council's recent decision to discontinue water fluoridation.
"Improving oral health is an important priority for the BOPDHB and we strongly support water fluoridation as part of a comprehensive approach to improving oral health and preventing tooth decay.
"I'm pleased that the council will have the opportunity to debate this issue again tomorrow, as it was only in 2013 that a referendum of citizens showed that 65.8 per cent of voters in Whakatane and 70.5 per cent of voters in Ohope wanted to retain water fluoridation," Mrs Mason said.
"Water fluoridation is an important and effective public health measure with proven benefits and it would be good to see it continue in Whakatane and Ohope."
The BOPDHB's principal dentist Dr Rudi Johnson, said New Zealand's most recent national oral health survey showed that children and adolescents living in fluoridated areas experienced 40 per cent less tooth decay than those living in non-fluoridated areas.
"Decay can cause pain and suffering and is preventable. Along with brushing teeth twice a day, eating healthy food and avoiding sugary drinks, water fluoridation also helps prevent tooth decay and benefits everyone," Dr Johnson said.
Water fluoridation was first introduced for Whakatane in 1972. Referenda in 1995, 2001 and in 2013 supported water fluoridation.
"There's a strong scientific consensus that water fluoridation is safe and effective in helping protect teeth from decay. Councillors can be confident that a decision for water fluoridation is supported by both science and the community," said BOPDHB Medical Officer of Health, Dr Neil de Wet.