Water Fountains to Improve Oral Health in Remote Schools

Three schools in northern New South Wales will have new water fountains installed as part of a plan to help improve oral health.

The University of Sydney’s Poche Centre for Indigenous Health is behind the installation of the chilled, filtered water bubblers at the Boggabilla and Mungindi Central Schools and Toomelah Public School.

Centre Director Kylie Gwynne said many Aboriginal children in those areas consume sugary drinks more than water and the main reasons children aren’t drinking tap water is that it’s hot and has a poor taste. She said the bubblers will provide better-tasting water and will hopefully close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous children.

“Fifty years ago, Aboriginal children had far better oral health than non-Aboriginal children, and now the opposite it true,” Gwynne said. “Aboriginal children now have more than double the rate of dental disease as other children and it’s something we need to get right on top of and drinking water and brushing teeth is key to that.”

The water fountains will be installed next year. The impact of the water fountains will be assessed before the preventative oral health programme is rolled out more widely.

“We’re starting in those three communities and our research team will be monitoring the project and measuring the impact,” Gwynne said. “If it’s a project that works and children start drinking water and we see an improvement in oral health, we’ll seek to expand the programme more broadly.”

The bubblers will be installed in time for the start of term one next year.

(File photo: ABC TV News)