Children living in South Wairarapa towns without fluoridated water have a greater rate of tooth decay than those living in Masterton according to a dental services team attached to Wairarapa District Health Board.
Supplying data requested by Masterton District Council, the dental services team advised that last year children in South Wairarapa with tooth decay at Year 8 had a mean number of 2.30 decayed, missing or filled teeth.
In Masterton, which has a fluoridated water supply, children with tooth decay had a mean number of 2.09 decayed, missing or filled teeth.
"What this tells us is that tooth decay is worse for children in non-fluoridated areas than in fluoridated ones," the team said.
The team's findings state the difference "may not seem much but when deprivation data for Masterton is taken into account 47 per cent of the population is in the highest 30 per cent of the most deprived in New Zealand".
"South Wairarapa has 39 per cent in the highest 30 per cent."
The dental service in Wairarapa takes a high-risk approach to ensure children from more deprived areas, and children more at risk of dental decay receive the care they need.
"Despite this, children living in areas without a fluoridated water supply at Year 8 have a more severe experience of tooth decay. The only difference in the two areas is fluoridation."
The district council is expected to note the information made available to it when it meets tomorrow.
As an aside, chief executive Pim Borren has advised councillors a review of scientific evidence for and against fluoridation in public water supplies was commissioned by Sir Peter Gluckman, the prime minister's chief science adviser, and Sir David Skegg, Royal Society of New Zealand president. It found the levels of fluoridation in New Zealand water supplies created no health risks and provided protection against tooth decay.