Irish Dentists Opposing Fluoridation (IDOF), a group of over 100 dentists, has published an article in The Irish Dentist slamming Minister Harney and the Department of Health for doing nothing to combat the near epidemic levels of dental fluorosis in Irish children. [1] Here, dental fluorosis, fluoride damage to teeth, has sky-rocketed with a seven fold increase from 1984 to 2002 and the Republic of Ireland (artificially fluoridated since 1960s) now has three times more fluorosis than Northern Ireland which still rejects water fluoridation on health and safety grounds.[2]

The figures from the North/South Oral Health study was carried out by the Department of Health in 2002 as part of the Forum on Fluoridation. But when it came to the paper’s launch why did then Minister of Health Micheal Martin not mention such disturbing results in his speech?[3] Why have the authors of the North/South study not reported these worrying fluorosis figures? And most importantly what is being done to combat this dental epidemic? The answers to these questions are a damning indictment of the government and a small number of academics and their endeavours to protect public health policy rather than public health.

Dental fluorosis, seen as white lines and spots on teeth, is caused by swallowing too much fluoride and is “the first readily detectable symptom of past chronic fluoride poisoning”.[4] Since 1960, we have been swallowing uncontrolled and unmonitored levels of fluoride through our tap water.  Especially at risk are bottle-feeding infants who because of their small size are consuming unsafe levels of fluoride in formula feed made up with tap water. The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) reviewed this issue and their findings were startling. Their risk assessment concluded that “the precautionary principle should apply and recommends that infant formula should not be reconstituted with fluoridated tap water”.[5] The scientific committee who carried out the research found that bottle-feeding infants were being dosed with unsafe levels of fluoride thus increasing their risk of moderate dental fluorosis.

This was effectively the end of water fluoridation in Ireland. But the Forum on Fluoridation rejected the submission on a technicality and then spent the following months leaning on the FSAI to change their conclusions.[6] They eventually capitulated and the FSAI deflected all responsibility from their decision by declaring “all babies should be breast-fed”.[7] Though they climbed down it appeared they had negotiated a reduction in the levels of fluoride in our tap water. So the Forum recommended turning down fluoride by one quarter.[8]

Dr. Don Mac Auley, Chairman of IDOF, commented, “The Forum was supposed to turn down the fluoride taps but nothing has happened. Minister Martin did nothing; Minister Harney has done nothing meanwhile fluoride poisoning as seen in the damage to our children’s teeth is at near epidemic levels. Why? The simple answer is they are financially and ethically responsible for damaging children’s health.

With new evidence questioning the effectiveness of swallowing fluoride,[9] and more and more children showing signs of fluoride poisoning there is a compensation time-bomb ticking. We believe the government knows this but like the whole nursing home payments debacle they are playing a delaying game. But when are they going to smell the coffee and look at their own figures? How many more children need to be damaged by chemical fluoride before they put an end to the unsafe, unethical and outdated practice of water fluoridation?”

[1] The Irish Dentist. Fluoridation and Truth Decay. April 2005.
[2] North/South Survey of Children’s Oral Health 2002.
[3] DoH website.
[4] Dr. Geoffrey Smith. New Scientist, May 5, 1983.
[5] Fluoride Free Water website.
[6] Joint Health Committee on Health and Children. 10/7/2003.
[7] Forum on Fluoridation Report. Appendix 18 pg 244.
[8] Forum on Fluoridation Report. Recommendation 1 pg 15.
[9] Armfield JM, Spencer AJ. Consumption of nonpublic water: implications for children’s caries experience. Community Dent Oral Epidemiol. 2004;32:283-296.