Last week, in the early hours of the morning, while feeding my currently (and thankfully?!) toothless baby I was ruminating on what will be the basis of my vote for Mayor at the next election: their stance on water fluoridation.
Despite that decision being crystallised, it still felt uneasy - in the last election, my vote was determined by the candidate's position on potholes, roundabouts and tidal pools - and rightly so.
I later discussed my electoral vacillations with a colleague who summarised it succinctly: 'certain things shouldn't be political'.
So why are we having a $90,000 non-binding poll on whether we should have fluoride in our water?
The science is clear; the NHMRC, the Australian Medical and Dental Associations have reached incontrovertible conclusions: it's safe, cheap, effective.
To add to my despondency, mounting scientific evidence confirms that so much more than just dentition is at stake: our whole health (mental, cardiovascular, gut) starts in our mouth.
Why has water fluoridation not been left up to public health science?
I would like to leave you, with the lessons that the Professor of Statistics hammered in us in Medical School; they resonate with me now more than ever: 'when it comes to polls, referendums and plebiscites, the answer you get will only ever be as valid as the question you ask' and 'if you torture the data enough, it will confess to anything'.
Dr Valia Francis
Westside Medical Centre