The reported findings of the DHB survey on public attitudes to fluoridation released this week come as no surprise to a group of dentists who have been independently studying fluoridation science, FIND (Fluoride Information Network for Dentists).
The survey of 3,500 adult New Zealanders reportedly found that only 42 percent were ‘strongly’ or ‘somewhat’ in favor of putting fluoride in water.
Dr. Stan Litras, spokesman for FIND, agrees with the author of the study that there is a lack of health literacy about community water fluoridation, but he is of the view that improved access to modern scientific findings will see a greater reduction in people wanting a fluoridated water supply.
“Policy should be made on the best scientific evidence, not on anecdotes and unsupported reports. For example, we consider it totally inappropriate the way that young children needing GAs for rampant decay are used as leverage for pushing water fluoridation. To our knowledge, there has never been a single reliable study suggesting that water fluoridation has any beneficial effect whatsoever in preventing cases of rampant child decay (Early Childhood Caries). It’s like an ant pushing back against an elephant. In the case of Taranaki five year olds, we see many times more GAs conducted in fluoridated Hawera than in New Plymouth just up the road, which ceased fluoridation in 2011.” says the FIND spokesman.
Dental Association suggestions that fluoridation should be a government level decision will actually disempower communities from making an informed decision on what in reality is a medical intervention, says Dr. Litras, but he is skeptical that any government would make such a decision to fluoridate the water of the entire country when public opinion is split down the middle, and with concerns over potential legal liability.
With increasing public access to objective scientific reviews such as the recently released gold standard Cochrane Review 2015, which casts considerable doubt over the effectiveness of water fluoridation in today’s society and the National Research Council’s comprehensive review of health risks in 2006, FIND can understand why support for water Fluoridation is quickly going down the drain.
“The Internet and social media have changed the game in areas of public concern. There is less margin for public health policies to be determined behind closed doors, rolled out on the basis of endorsements and PR and not expect to meet resistance from well informed people with legitimate concerns.” says Dr. Litras.
The FIND website www.fluoridation.nz contains information which is designed to help inform the public and health professionals on the evidence based research and issues surrounding water fluoridation, in the public interest.
Dr. Stan Litras BDS BSc