Fluoride added to Queensland water

QUEENSLAND children may have to wait another five years before the benefits of the new fluoridated water can be seen.

Fluoridation of south-east Queensland water supplies began on Monday at a water treatment plant in Molendinar, north of the Gold Coast, but it could take nearly two weeks to flow from the taps.

It marks the first step of the government's plan to provide fluoridated water to 90 per cent of the south-east and the remainder of Queensland by 2012.

The introduction of fluoridated water should improve the state's dismal dental health record, that shows Queensland kids have 30-40 per cent more tooth decay than children from other states.

Queensland Health Minister Stephen Robertson denied reports that the fluoride was contaminated saying the top-quality product came from Belgium, not China as reported, and Queenslanders could rest easy the water would be tested daily.

"Queenslanders can be assured that the fluoridated water that they will be drinking will be the highest quality with regular daily monitoring of the level of fluoride being added," Mr Robertson said.

Deputy Premier Paul Lucas said any assumptions that fluoride would be in the tap water on Monday were incorrect and the "commissioning process" took time.

"We have waited 30 years for this," Mr Lucas said at the press conference.

"There are a number of people who have expressed concerns about fluoride, but I think they are wrong, wrong, wrong."

Dental expert Michael Foley said fluoridation of the water would not be an instant fix for decaying teeth and Queenslanders should also continue good oral hygiene.

"We'll notice a slow improvement over the next few years," Dr Foley said.

"The biggest change we'll see will be the first crop of grade one kiddies going through the school dental service in about five years time.

"That's when we'll see the biggest difference."

Parents should stop giving their children fluoride supplements as excess fluoride could cause dental fluorosis, a condition that gives teeth a blotched appearance.



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