THE CITY of Greater Bendigo should actively press for fluoride in Heathcote's water supply before the state election, councillors have been told.
Council officers believe November's poll could open the door to much-sought after funding.
Councillors will discuss the matter when they meet on Monday night.
Paying to fluoridate Heathcote's water supply has become the main barrier for the council after a "partially successful" community lobbying push, they have said.
State MP Steph Ryan and a host of local organisations have backed the plan.
Heathcote residents are among the one in 10 Australians with no access to fluoridated water, council officers said.
A quarter of people in the area rate their health as fair or poor, according to a 2019 study.
"This is significantly higher than the Greater Bendigo average of 19 per cent," council officers said.
"There is reliable evidence that Heathcote community access to the preventive effects of fluoride would help to improve oral health outcomes, which would have flow on benefits for overall community health and wellbeing."
There is strong evidence to show that fluoridated water improves people's oral health, council officers said.
The council could decide to fund fluoridation itself, "however at around $920,000 this would likely be prohibitively expensive," they said.
It would also mean taking on a job that is rightly the state government's, council officers said.
Fluoridating water can be a controversial topic, they have told councillors.
"While there is overwhelming scientific evidence for water fluoridation as a public health measure, there are pockets of opposition in the wider community and it is possible that there will be community members at Heathcote who do not support this advocacy," they said.
Medical experts used a 2017 public statement to declare fluoride levels in drinking water safe.
"There is no reliable evidence of an association between community water fluoridation at current Australian levels and any health problems," federal government body the National Health and Medical Research Council said.
"Fluoridation of drinking water particularly benefits children, and those on a lower income who tend to have higher rates of dental decay and less access to dental treatment and other forms of fluoride."
The push would have the strong support of Heathcote Health, oral health experts and would be in line with multiple council policy documents that members of the public had been consulted about, council officers said.
If you're reading this it's because you're a loyal subscriber to the Bendigo Advertiser. If you want to get more out of your subscription join the discussion on the Bendigo Advertiser's subscriber group on Facebook today.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.