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Date set for fluoridation of Gunnedah's town water

February 20, 2024

Fluoride will be introduced to Gunnedah Shire’s town water supply from Monday, March 11, 2024 following a comprehensive testing and training process.

Records show 96% of the population of New South Wales has access to fluoridated water, with New South Wales Health supporting fluoridation of drinking water as a safe and effective way to help prevent tooth decay in the community.

Gunnedah Shire Council Manager Water Services Michael Ludlow said Gunnedah’s new $8 million water treatment facility allowed the centralised treatment of town water for the first time.

“This modern centre has been designed and constructed to ensure consistent treatment of town water, and to allow for the introduction of fluoridation,” Mr Ludlow said.

“The new centre has undergone rigorous testing and a qualified contractor will supervise and monitor the initial implementation as Council staff complete their final ‘live’ training.

“Gunnedah Shire has the benefit of using the decades of experience of other water suppliers and is implementing a system that is already in place across most of the state and the country. Testing will be done daily in accordance with NSW Health regulations.”

Fluoride has no taste or smell, and will not have any noticeable impact on drinking water.

Fluoridation is supported by many dental and health organisations, including the National Health and Medical Research Council, the World Health Organization, the Australian Dental Association, the Australian Medical Association, the Public Health Association of Australia, and the Royal Australasian College of Physicians.

To find out more about fluoridation of drinking water, visit NSW Health at
Residents with access to town water do not have to take any preparations ahead of this date.

Caption: Gunnedah’s new water treatment centre has been built to allow centralised treatment of the town water supply and to introduce fluoride as recommended by NSW Health.


For more information, contact Gunnedah Shire Council’s Communications team on (02) 6740 2100 or


Questions and answers

Source: NSW Health (

Why add fluoride to drinking water?

Water utilities add fluoride to drinking water to reduce tooth decay in children and adults. Good dental health is extremely important for people's overall health and wellbeing. Adding fluoride to drinking water keeps teeth healthy and reduces costs for everyone in our community. This is especially important for people who might not have regular access to dental services.

Most people get fluoride every day when they brush their teeth or drink tap water. Fluoride is a natural mineral found in soil, rocks, and water, but the water in the rivers and dams that provide our drinking water usually does not have enough fluoride to prevent tooth decay.

How does drinking fluoridated water help prevent tooth decay?

Fluoride helps to repair teeth with early signs of tooth decay before cavities form. It also helps children’s teeth be more resistant to tooth decay as they are forming – protecting them right from the start.

Tooth decay is caused by bacteria in the mouth. These bacteria produce acid after eating sugary foods. The acid strips away minerals from the tooth's surface, weakening teeth and increasing the chance of getting tooth decay. Fluoride helps strengthen the tooth's enamel surface to prevent tooth decay. Fluoride can also help repair tooth enamel before serious decay occurs. Water fluoridation provides baby and adult teeth with frequent and consistent contact with low levels of fluoride.

Studies from NSW and Australia show that fluoridation reduces tooth decay across the whole community. Children living in towns with water fluoridation have significantly less tooth decay than those without. There are also more children with no tooth decay at all in communities with fluoride in their drinking water.

Is drinking fluoridated water safe?

Fluoridated drinking water is safe for children and adults of all ages. In 2017, Australia's National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) reviewed all the scientific research into fluoridated drinking water. It found that drinking fluoridated water does not cause any health problems and has the benefit of preventing tooth decay.

Some people claim that it is not safe to drink fluoridated water. They say it can cause cancer or reduce children's intelligence. Reliable scientific evidence does not support these claims.

What if I get too much fluoride?

Having too much fluoride can cause white lines to appear on people's teeth, known as dental fluorosis. Noticeable fluorosis is very uncommon in Australia.

Water utilities and NSW Health check the levels of fluoride in our water regularly to make sure it has enough to prevent tooth decay and avoid fluorosis.

How long have people been drinking fluoridated water?

Fluoride has been added to drinking water for more than 75 years. The first fluoridated water supply was in the USA in 1945. Tasmania was the first Australian state to begin fluoridation in 1953, followed by parts of NSW in 1956. Today almost all public drinking water supplies in NSW are fluoridated.

Who supports water fluoridation?

Water fluoridation is supported by many reputable health and dental associations across Australia and the world. The following organisations support and encourage water fluoridation as a public health measure to help prevent tooth decay:

  • National Health and Medical Research Council
    • World Health Organization
    • Australian Dental Association
    • Australian Medical Association
    • Public Health Association of Australia
    • Royal Australasian College of Physicians

What else can I do to protect my teeth?

  • Brush your teeth, gums and tongue with fluoride toothpaste every morning and night
    • Have regular meals and less snacks during the day
    • Choose water as your main drink
    • Have dental check-ups and see a dental practitioner if you have any sore teeth or bleeding gums

More information

• NSW Health – Fluoridation -
• National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) -