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Aust Dent J. 2004 Jun;49(2):61-6.

An historical perspective on early progress of Queensland water fluoridation 1945-1954: sheep, climate and sugar.

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School of Dentistry, The University of Queensland.



Queensland's virtual rejection of artificial water fluoridation sets it apart from other Australian states, yet the early fluoride environs has been scantily recorded.


This paper used archives, literature review, personal interview and the traditional historic method.


The connection between Queensland artesian bore water and caries resistance was postulated as early as 1912. Four decades later, two Queensland-specific factors influenced the planning to fluoridate community water supplies. The first (1945-1950) was confusion between the high levels of fluoride in artesian water supplying the pastoral industry and the scientific concept of artificial water fluoridation of communal supplies. The second (1952-1954) involved further scientific investigation involving water consumption patterns, occupational dehydration and fluid homeostasis within a sub-tropical climate. The role of the Australian Dental Association Queensland Branch (ADAQ) in early fluoride politics was minimal. Four early protagonists are identified--two dentists, an engineer and the sugar industry.


Queensland had its advocates for artificial water fluoridation of communal supply as a means of caries prevention. Interest came from the dental, medical and engineering professions, and from the sugar industry. However, these efforts met with indifference based on confused extrapolation of the artesian experience (1945-1952) and hesitancy (1952-1954) due to contemporaneous concerns about human fluid homeostasis in Queensland's sub-tropical climate.

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