Almost predictably the British Dental Association released its PR salvo today – leaving little time for response, before the crucial vote in the House of Commons on Monday (September 8).
The BDA distributed what they characterized as a “league of shame” of tooth decay in unfluoridated communities, which they claim sharply differs from tooth decay in fluoridated ones. Countless claims like this have been made in the past, but usually whither on the vine when they are examined scientifically.
The key point is that tooth decay is far more closely related to poverty than it is to fluoride, so unless these kinds of studies are conducted very carefully they can easily become a self-fulfilling prophesy in the hands of pro-fluoridation zealots.
That’s why serious researchers and government reviewers normally insist on peer-reviewed studies so that protocols can be checked very carefully for potential bias. There is no indication in the reports below that these studies were peer-reviewed or published. One has to wonder about a “professional” organization releasing un-peer reviewed and unpublished data in this manner.
It is frustrating seeeing how little real science about fluoride’s health effects is being discussed in the British press.
Meanwhile, thanks to Dr. Mark Diesendorf (Sydney, Australia); Ralph Ryder (Ellesmere Port, UK); Jan Petit (North Carolina) and Christine Cave, (Hamilton, New Zealand) for sending letters into the Guardian (printed below). Fingers crossed that they will be published before the vote on Monday.
If you haven’t done so please send in your best letter to the Guardian at , especially if there is an issue which hasn’t been covered in these letters which you feel strongly about.
The BDA PR material was picked up by, among others:
1) ITV news.
2) The Evening Standard
3) Sheffield Today
4) Yahoo. com UK news
5) The Guardian
The stories are more or less the same. We have printed out the Guardian piece because those writing to the Guardian might want to write a letter commenting on both this and the Sept 3 article.
Fluoridation ‘saves children’s teeth’
Friday September 05 2003
Rates of tooth decay among children are up to three times worse in areas where water supplies have not been fluoridated, according to dentists’ leaders.
A survey by the British Dental Association (BDA) found that the average five-year-old from Manchester had three times as many decayed, missing or filled teeth as a child of the same age from Birmingham, where water supplies have been fluoridated for the last 40 years.
The child tooth decay “list of shame”, published today, is intended to bolster the association’s campaign to add fluoride to water supplies throughout England and Wales.
The BDA is calling on MPs to support targeted water fluoridation in a bid to protect dental health.
Their league table of parliamentary constituencies, focusing on five-year-olds, suggests that putting fluoride in water leads to less fillings and lost teeth.
The fluoridation debate enters a crucial stage next week as MPs consider an amendment to the water bill, which would allow strategic health authorities in England and the national assembly in Wales greater power to make water companies add fluoride to water supplies.
As the law stands local authorities can ask the local water company to add fluoride but the companies cannot be compelled to do so.
The amendment was approved by the House of Lords in July by almost five votes to one and supporters of targeted fluoridation hope MPs will follow suit.
The BDA league table shows that the worst 64 constituencies – where five-year-olds had on average more than two decayed, missing or filled teeth – had no water fluoridation.
In five constituencies, all in the north-west of England, on average children had more than three decayed, missing or filled teeth.
In comparison the areas with below average tooth decay – less than one problem each – tended to be areas where water was fluoridated.
The 27 constituencies, mainly in the Midlands, with the lowest incidence of tooth decay in five-year-olds were all in areas where fluoride was added to water.
Dr John Renshaw, chairman of the BDA’s executive board, said: “It’s tragic that, in this day and age, there are five-year-old children in the UK with such high levels of tooth decay.
“And the real tragedy is that much of it could be avoided by such a simple measure as targeted water fluoridation.
“By supporting this amendment to the water bill, MPs will be giving local communities the chance to choose fluoridated water and help safeguard the future of their children’s dental health.”
The BDA wants to get across the message that fluoridation is safe, supported by past studies by the Medical Research Council and the University of York.
They believe it would help narrow oral health inequalities because it could be targeted to areas, particularly poorer parts of the country, where tooth decay is higher.
Fluoridation is the addition of silicofluorides (hexafluorosilicic acid or, less commonly, sodium hexafluorosilicate) at the level of one part per million to public water supplies.
Opponents argue that silicofluorides are a class 2 poison under the Poisons Act, have serious adverse health effects, and in any case do nothing to benefit children’s teeth.
Other studies have linked fluoride with bone cancer, higher incidences of miscarriages and Down’s syndrome births, and decreased IQ levels.
If you want to write to The Guardian, here’s the address:
LETTERS TO THE GUARDIAN.
1) From Dr. Mark Diesendorf, Sydeny, Australia:
It is astonishing that the British Government is planning to expand the fluoridation of water supplies, as discussed in James Meikle’s article (Guardian, September 3), under circumstances when most of continental Europe has either never implemented or discontinued water fluoridation.
There are good reasons, both scientific and ethical, for banning fluoridation. Despite the pro-fluoridation propaganda, there is little or no dental benefit in swallowing fluoride, since its mechanism of action is now known to be “topical”. i.e. directly on the tooth surface. This is even acknowledged by the US Center for Disease Control.
Well-established health hazards include dental fluorosis, skeletal fluorosis, hip fractures and hypersensitivity reactions. In addition, there are scientific grounds for concern about fluoride’s ability, in the presence of traces of aluminium, to disrupt G-proteins, our key biological messengers.
People are being misled by public health authorities that they must ingest this harmful and ineffective mass medication which delivers an uncontrolled daily dose. For further information visit the website www.fluoridealert.org, and also refer to my review article in the September 2003 issue of Australasian Science — the article may be downloaded from my website www.sustainabilitycentre.com.au.
Dr Mark Diesendorf
Director, Sustainability Centre Pty Ltd
PO Box 221, Epping, Sydney NSW 1710, Australia
phone: +61 2 9801 2976; fax: +61 2 9801 2986
Adjunct Professor of Sustainability Policy
Murdoch University, Perth W.A., Australia
From Ralph Ryder, Ellesmere Port, UK.
Andy Burnham, the Labour MP for Leigh, claims the state of some children’s teeth “…breaks anyone’s heart” and “This doesn’t happen in Birmingham or Newcastle [where there is fluoride in water]….” (Guardian 3 Sept).
He neglects to mention that a 1997 study on toothpaste use published in the British Dental Journal, found that 34% of children at five Birmingham primary schools have dental fluorosis, and that Birmingham has been fluoridated for about 40 years.
Mr Burnham also claimed “The educated, articulate, letter-writing people are so unforgiving [when asking]’ Why are parents not buying toothbrushes or feeding kids properly? “Some of them have no idea what it is like bringing up a kid on a very low income and the pressure that creates, and the difficulties that occur.”
Of course as a poorly paid, overworked Member of Parliament, Mr Burnham undoubtedly understands the situation among the lower income groups better than the rest of us. But to blame poor dental hygiene among the 11 million or so living below the poverty line in the UK on the cost of toothpaste and a toothbrush is quite simply ludicrous. Especially when one considers it wasn’t that long ago that Mr Burnham’s colleague Hazel Blears declared, “people who don’t want fluoridation could purchase water filters or buy bottled water….” items a lot more expensive than toothpaste and a toothbrush. This statement is somewhat reminisce of the infamous “Let them eat cake” by a wealthly Frenchwomen also out of touch with reality.
I know Mr Burnham is aware (via a letter from a representative of the North West Councils Against Fluoridation) that The York Review showed that in fluoridated areas although there may be a benefit of 14.6% (0.4 of a tooth), 48% of people in those areas suffer from dental fluorosis, and that 12.5% (that’s one in eight of them) will require cosmetic treatment for this unsightly effect. But while making a lot of the pressure on families through the cost of toothpaste etc., Mr Burnham says nothing of the true monetary cost of dental fluorosis to the victims, (to say nothing of the psychological impact of having a mouth full of brown, mottled teeth). He never mentioned that the minimum cost for a tooth veneer is approximately £250, or that the cost for treatment for dental fluorosis can reach as high as £450 per tooth , and that repeat treatment is required every five to six years throughout the victims life? But then he wouldn’t would he? Because reality goes against his fluoridation ‘spin.’ .
Wishing you good health, pure water, and an MP who works for the people before the party.
Coordinator, Communities Against Toxics
PO Box 29, Ellesmere Port
Cheshire, CH66 3TX
3) Christine Cave, Hamilton, New Zealand.
Water fluoridation is another careless “quick fix” decision so common in todays world. I call it the “fly-spider’ syndrome. You know the rhyme: There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly”. We don’t know why she swallowed the fly but we know she tries to solve her problem by swallowing a spider. We realise as the rhyme continues that she is in fact creating a new problen every tine she swallows.
Even if fluoride does help, and the famous York report did not think it made much difference, osteoarthritis, ostoeporosis, cancer, alzheimers, hip fractures etc are big prices to pay for a very small benefit.
Will you be swallowing a bigger problem than you have now?
14 Manning St
4) From Jan Petit, Saluda, North Carolina:
For 2 years I have offered in my American community to pay $20,000 to anyone who could produce a scientifically valid, published, peer-reviewed research proving that the chemical we use for fluoridation prevents tooth decay and/or is safe to drink for a lifetime.Why no takers?
Our own US Food & Drug Administration, empowered and entrusted with the duty to protect the public health admits there are no studies, as required by law, on the safety and efficacy of the primary fluoridation chemical, hydrofluosilicic acid. All manufacturers of medications (fluosilicic acid has been designated a medication as a fluoridation additive) are required retroactively to 1938 to be approved by the USFDA before they can be sold to the public.
This chemical is a slightly radioactive, heavy metal-contaminated pollution sludge. It is the unrefined, toxic byproduct of fertilizer companies, and dumping it into a creek in even minute concentrations is considered a criminal act in the U.S. It is officially rated as “Extremely Hazardous Waste” and very costly for fertilizer companies to eliminate. Any official voting to add this cumulative, poisonous sludge to a public water supply has either not studied the risks, doesn’t care about public safety or has sold out.
Don’t let our American rule-by-corporation mistake be yours.
Janet Pettit, President
Concerned Citizens for Pure Water
77 Montessori Circle
Saluda, NC 28773