NSW Health has approved the addition of fluoride to the Gunnedah council area’s town water supply.
A Hunter New England Health spokesperson said the approval had come after a “longer-term process” with Gunnedah Shire Council and the Ministry of Health.
The council voted late last year to ask approval from NSW Health to fluoridate for the oral health benefits to residents, citing “overwhelming community support”.
Only a small number of NSW local government bodies do not fluoridate their town water supplies.
Gunnedah shire mayor Jamie Chaffey said: “There is still much to do in relation to working with other government agencies around the design and implementation”.
“However, we are hopeful the original target of 2020 for commissioning can still be achieved.”
The issue has not been without its critics, with a lobby group working against the plan, but it has also had strong support.
Dentist Michael Jonas said in a letter to the Namoi Valley Independent that, as dentist of almost 40 years, he believed fluoridation of the town water was “long overdue”.
“In that time I’ve seen many, many patients – children and adults – with dental disease that could have been avoided.”
Several chiefs of groups including the Australian Dental Association, Australian Medical Association NSW and National Rural Health Alliance even wrote an open letter urging the council to support the move.
“Water fluoridation has had an enormous impact on improving Australians’ oral health over the past 60 years,” they said.
“The vast majority of the country enjoys the health benefits of fluoridation.
“The residents of Gunnedah deserve those same advantages.”