Big teething problem

YANCHEP has no dental practice, despite areas with unfluoridated water supplies needing more than twice as many dentists as other areas, a dental association chief says.

Australian Dental Association WA branch chief executive Stuart Gairns said there were currently no private dental practices located in Yanchep or Two Rocks.

Areas with an unfluoridated water supply in WA generally needed two-and-ahalf times as many dentists to treat the same number of people as areas with fluoride in the water, and these populations had more complex dental needs.

A spokesman for Department of Health’s Dental Health Service said dental care for children was provided by the School Dental Service van which visited the Yanchep District High School regularly.

“Adult patients are able to access dental care from public and private services in surrounding suburbs.”

The Water Fluoridation Advisory Committee is investigating whether fluoride should be added to the local water supply, which is separate from the rest of Perth.

Committee chair Richard Lugg previously said the only reason to add fluoride to water was to prevent tooth decay.

However Dr Gairns said preventing tooth decay wasn’t just about water fluoridation and brushing, but included diet.

“The biggest significant determinant is the frequency and amount of sugar consumption,” he said. Energy drinks eroded the natural protection on teeth and carbonised drinks with high sugar content displaced the amount of water drunk.

With the committee unlikely to make a recommendation to the Health Minister on whether to fluoridate Yanchep’s water before 2012, Dental Health Service advice for people concerned about dental decay includes brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and flossing daily.

“Everyone should also be encouraged to drink water and milk, provided this is in moderation,” the dental service spokesman said.

“Regular checks are an important factor in the prevention of dental disease.”

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