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Dr Matt Hobbs

NZDA24 Matt Hobbs

Dr Matthew Hobbs is a spatial epidemiologist with an interest in promoting good oral health for underserved populations. He is a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Health at the University of Canterbury and Co-Director of the GeoHealth Laboratory in the Geospatial Research Institute which directly informs health policy in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Dentist Programme

Diving deeper than ever before into New Zealand’s community water fluoridation

Community water fluoridation (CWF) is a safe and effective population-level public health intervention for the prevention of tooth decay. The recent Fluoridation of Drinking Water Amendment Act 2021 means there is now an opportunity to ensure a nationally consistent approach to CWF.

This talk will demonstrate how we created the first national map to delineate fluoride levels in drinking water supplies across New Zealand using advanced geospatial methods (and yes, that means plenty of maps and exciting visualisations). It will then proceed to discuss compliance within the recommended fluoride levels in fluoridated areas of NZ and highlight how CWF access and compliance may be inequitable. You will leave knowing if your local area is fluoridated or not and to what degree your patients are fully benefiting from CWF.

We hope to support efforts to improve population oral health and reduce inequities in NZ by providing evidence to help policymakers make better informed decisions. We also aim to support the oversight of water suppliers to ensure they are achieving fluoride concentrations required for optimal oral health.