Around one in 15 kids under the age of 14 are having teeth extracted, according to recently released health department figures.
“This is unacceptable in a country like New Zealand, and is largely preventable” says Wellington dentist, Dr. Stan Litras.
Water fluoridation is not the answer, though, in his opinion.
Dr. Litras is the convener of FIND, a group of dentists who have reservations about the NZDA- endorsed push for fluoridation, and suggests that the focus is misplaced.
” We are seeing just as much decay in fluoridated areas, like Auckland, as in unfluoridated areas, like Christchurch.
Tooth decay is not caused by lack of fluoride in the water, but by high sugar consumption and lack of cleaning.
We are letting kids down by not educating the parents in prevention from a young age, and suggesting that fluoridating community water supplies will protect their kids’ teeth, when we know that the effect of fluoride is not from swallowing it.
Public funds which are spent on promoting, implementing and defending mass water fluoridation may be more sensibly used on targeting at risk groups with preventive programs”, he says.
Dr. Litras will be speaking next month in Sydney at an International Symposium on water fluoridation, which will include leading experts and academics.