Water fluoridation is when the natural fluoride level in our water supply is topped up with just enough fluoride to help protect our teeth from decay.

Everyone with their own teeth benefits from having fluoride in the water.

Water fluoridation is supported by international, national and local health organisations and there is more than 60 years of extensive scientific study to support its safety.

The vast majority of medical and dental experts recommend water fluoridation because:

  • Water fluoridation is safe. The science is clear that the level used for water fluoridation in New Zealand is safe. Too much of anything that the body needs, like salt, sunlight or fluoride, can cause harm. There is no risk of getting too much fluoride from drinking fluoridated water.
  • Water fluoridation is effective. Sixty years of research shows that water fluoridation helps prevent tooth decay. Along with brushing twice a day, choosing low sugar foods and drinks, and having regular dental checkups, water fluoridation helps to protect our teeth and provides lifelong benefits. The NZ Oral Health Survey (2009) showed that children and adolescents in fluoridated areas had, on average, 40% less tooth decay than those in non-fluoridated areas.
  • Water fluoridation is natural. When fluoride, in the form of hydrofluorosilicic acid, is added to water it is the same as naturally occurring fluoride.
  • Water fluoridation is fair. Everyone with their own teeth benefits from water fluoridation, especially the young and those who find it more difficult to afford dental care and checkups.
  • It's about community. If we do not have water fluoridation, our children and especially those disadvantaged in our community will suffer more tooth decay. It is our duty to help look after the health of everyone in our communities.

The Health (Fluoridation of Drinking Water) Amendment Act 2021 shifted the decision-making authority on community water fluoridation from local authorities to the Director-General of Health on the basis that it is a health-based decision.


Which areas in the Bay of Plenty and Lakes districts have water fluoridation?

In the Bay of Plenty area, Whakatāne and Ōhope currently have a community water fluoridation programme.

The level of naturally occurring fluoride in the Whakatāne River (which supplies the Whakatāne and Ōhope water supply) is around 0.12mg/l.  At the water treatment plant this is topped up to 0.7mg/l which is in the optimal range to provide the best protection for teeth.

In the Lakes area, Turangi and Taupō township water supplies are fluoridated.

The source of fluoride used is hydrofluorosilicic acid and it is the same as naturally occurring fluoride when dissolved in water. It is added during the water treatment process.

In New Zealand not all water supplies are able to be fluoridated. This is due to a variety of reasons such as the technical complexities involved at smaller water treatment plants, as well as the fact that water fluoridation is not as cost effective for areas with under 750-1000 people.


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