Data released by the Ministry of Health today confirm that water fluoridation is having no noticeable effect in reducing tooth decay.
Around one in three NZ children have at least one cavity by age 5, and growing up with water fluoridation seems to offer no benefit.
Children in areas without fluoridation, like Christchurch and Nelson-Marlborough once again have among the best teeth in the country, with less tooth decay among 5 year olds than most fluoridated areas, such as Auckland and Counties-Manukau.
Hastings, the first area to have fluoride put in its water as an experiment in the 1950’s still has just as much tooth decay than its non-fluoridated neighbor, Napier, the town originally used to demonstrate the benefit of water fluoridation. Sixty years on there is still no benefit.
The overturning of the Hamilton council decision to stop fluoridation in 2013 also appears a wasted effort, with non fluoridated Waikato areas having less tooth decay than the fluoridated city.
“It’s very hard to see, with their own data consistently showing these trends for over 20 years, how Health Minister Coleman, the DHBs as well as the NZ Dental Association, can continue to make New Zealanders believe they will obtain a 40% reduction in tooth decay if councils fluoridate. Such statements are not backed by the science, nor by the facts, which are blatantly obvious in the school dental service data” says Dr. Stan Litras, spokesperson for the dentist group FIND who consider waterfluoridation a futile distraction.
“It’s clear to anyone who has looked at this in any depth that tooth decay is linked to socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and access to health care, not to water fluoridation. We think the health authorities are barking up the wrong tree, simply because it’s more convenient to pretend that’s going to fix the problem than to address the real issues”.
“While fluoridation enthusiasts fêted the government announcement last week aiming to give DHBs the power to force fluoridation on councils, assuming this would result in mandatory national fluoridation, we believe such a move could also give DHBs the power to end fluoridation if they look at the facts and act responsibly.”
School dental service data can be found on www.health.govt .