Jill Garsden, Goonellabah
I wish to offer a detailed response to those who are outraged by the thought that the fluoridation of the water supply has been rejected.
I have already commented on a couple of those letters, and I hope I have made it clear that I respect the desire and right of people to ingest fluoride to address dental issues.
My objections to water fluoridation are that it does not allow each of us freedom of choice; neither does it offer optimum dental health to those of us who have a healthy diet and take care of our teeth.
There is little doubt that fluoridation of the water supply improves community dental health overall. However, the reason that it does so is that it protects teeth against the unnatural amount of sugar and acid that most people consume these days.
The consumption of fast foods, processed foods and soft drinks means that most people ingest many, many more times the amount of sugar that our forebears did; likewise, our society tends to consume highly acidic, out-of-season fruits instead of eating natural seasonal produce.
When these habits are combined with poor dental hygiene, a higher level of ingested fluoride has been shown to protect teeth against decay, and hence water fluoridation has been seen as a good method of ensuring dental health.
Unfortunately, studies have also shown that excess ingestion of fluoride can be harmful.
For those of us who limit our consumption of sugar and acidic fruit, and who follow a disciplined dental health regime, the amount of fluoride that is ingested from a fluoridated water supply is excessive, and can result in (among more serious health problems) badly stained and rotted teeth.
My own dentist, who is one of the best in Australia, has stated that we ingest fluoride naturally from a number of sources, and that children who regularly drink fresh whole milk and adults who drink two cups of black tea per day obtain sufficient fluoride from those sources.
For these reasons, it seems obvious to me that it is morally wrong to force all of us, regardless of our dietary habits and dental health regimes, to ingest fluoride via our water.
In summary, fluoride, which can be beneficial for some people, should be made available in an optional form for those who want and need it, but it should not be forced upon all of us via our water supply.
It would be far better to provide dietary and health education and encourage everyone to take greater responsibility for their dental health, because that would render fluoridation unnecessary.
Please, can we now have some balance in the more extreme views offered in these pages?