A new review just released by the Cochrane Collaboration, internationally acknowledged as the gold standard in evidenced based reviews of health science, confirms doubts over the benefits of fluoridating water supplies in modern developed countries like New Zealand.
The Cochrane Review finds the science does not support claims that water fluoridation is of any benefit to adults, nor that it reduces social inequalities, nor that it provides additional benefits over and above topically applied fluoride (such as in toothpaste), nor that tooth decay increases in communities when fluoridation is stopped.
These are all arguments used by our health department in promoting the procedure.
The review is not convinced that studies showing that water fluoridation reduces decay in children are applicable to today’s society either, as nearly all the studies used in calculations (dating back to the 1940’s) were conducted prior to the availability of fluoride toothpaste and other sources of fluoride which we have today, and were at high risk of bias.
These findings are completely at odds with last year’s Royal Society review , which our government refers to as justification for promoting fluoridation.
The Cochrane Review was not charged with investigating the health risks of water fluoridation, other than the harmful effects on teeth.
Here it found that 40% of children in fluoridated areas have dental fluorosis, developmental damage to the tooth structure caused by fluoride overdose.
Fluoride has been shown to affect brain development and thyroid function in low doses, and was classified as an endocrine disruptor by the landmark review on health effects of fluoride by the top scientific body in the U.S., the National Research Council (published in 2006).
It is of concern that while fluoridation promoters proclaim the science is settled, and base their policies on unreliable studies, the properly conducted gold standard systematic reviews stress the need for better research to be done.
The Cochrane Review findings support statements previously made by FIND, an independent dentist group looking at fluoridation in New Zealand, and reinforce their call for a national moratorium on water fluoridation, and an independent investigation into the policy in this country.
“It’s important to consider what the implications could be of a health department allowing such a policy to continue when it is not backed by the weight of scientific evidence” says FIND spokesman, Dr. Stan Litras.
Stan Litras, BDS BSc
Water fluoridation for the prevention of dental caries
The Cochrane Library