Matt Hobbs, Senior Research Fellow (Adjunct), GeoHealth Laboratory, University of Canterbury
"Water fluoridation is a safe and effective way to improve oral health. The move to take a nationally consistent approach by Associate Health Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall is important. Previously in New Zealand, we have had variation in water fluoridation depending on where you live. This is due to an absence of regulation at the national level.
"However, evidence shows that the presence of water fluoridation is related to, not only outcomes such as reduced dental decay, but also to other outcomes such as lower dental-related hospitalisations in children. Moreover, the benefit of water fluoridation is greatest for those living in the most deprived areas. As such, the biggest oral health gain to be made from this move is for those with the worst socioeconomic disadvantage. Water fluoridation can start to save some of our poorest children from hospitalisation.
"There is clear evidence that community water fluoridation continues to be an effective and safe upstream population-wide intervention consequently, the regulation and promotion of community water fluoridation at a national level is welcomed. This will be an important step forwards for improving the oral health of New Zealanders and reducing inequity in oral health outcomes."