The level of fluoridation added to water in New Zealand creates no health risks and provide cost-effective protection against tooth decay, a review has found.

The review of scientific evidence, released on Friday, was commissioned by the prime minister’s chief science adviser Sir Peter Gluckman and Royal Society of New Zealand president Sir David Skegg.

Community water fluoridation was a cost-effective and equitable way of improving public health, the report says.

Councils currently using fluoride could be confident about its public health benefits, while those that don’t could consider it a safe and effective option.

Dental health remained a major issue particularly in low socioeconomic areas and continued fluoridation at current levels would be beneficial, said Sir Peter.

“The public can be reassured on the basis of robust scientific data, that the implementation of this public health measure poses no risk of adverse health effects.”

Local and international experts involved in the review found there was no scientific evidence to concerns raised by those who oppose it, including cancer, musculoskeletal and hormonal disorders and adverse effects on brain development.

The only side effect in New Zealand was mild dental fluorosis, which can cause opaque white areas in the tooth enamel and is usually of no cosmetic significance.

However, this was as common in non-fluoridated areas and was probably caused by young children swallowing toothpaste, the report said.

District health boards, health and dental officials in Auckland and Northland welcomed the findings.

“This is great news for health of all New Zealanders and fully supports that community water fluoridation is safe, effective and fair and benefits everyone in our community,” says Auckland regional medical officer of health Dr Richard Hoskins.

The review, Health Effects of Water Fluoridation: a Review of the Scientific Evidence, was carried out at the request of Auckland City on behalf of several councils.


See also,

Media release from the Royal Society of NZ, August 22, 2014