Recent comments made by Te Te Ora advisor, Dr. Neil De Wet, warning of dire consequences following Whakatane’s dumping of water fluoridation are unsupported by current science and are alarmist, according to FIND, a group of dentists who have been independently reviewing the science of fluoridation.
“Dr de Wet refers to the 2009 NZ Oral Health Survey, a document which itself stresses that it’s not a reliable scientific study on the effects of water fluoridation on tooth decay”, says a spokesman for the group, Dr. Stan Litras. “A snapshot in time survey is not a scientific study. It is unacceptable to base important policy making decisions on this rather than the more robust scientific evidence which is available”.
Reliable metadata studies over the last 15 years (the most recent being the gold standard Cochrane Review, 2015) all find there is no support for claims that cessation of water fluoridation programs lead to increased tooth decay, and this has been borne out in other New Zealand communities where fluoridation programs have been canned, such as New Plymouth and Ashburton, as well as overseas.
Dr. Litras predicts that the ending of water fluoridation in Whakatane will have no noticeable effect on tooth decay in children, but will probably have positive spin offs to the general health of the entire community.
“There is a compelling body of research now indicating that too much fluoride plays a role in neurological and endocrine diseases, and Maori would appear to be especially at risk. I would expect Dr. De Wet will be pleasantly surprised at this community’s health after five years without artificial water fluoridation, and perhaps he may even advocate for its removal in other communities”, Dr. Litras said.
FIND further applauds the council’s insight into donating the money saved on fluoridation to help the DHB target the children most at risk from tooth decay with proven prevention programmes.
The Whakatane Council made a decision on behalf of its citizens to stop adding fluoride in the water because they believe safety has not been established, and the level of benefit is questionable. Other councils who followed a tribunal process, such as Hamilton and New Plymouth, also voted to stop fluoridation, after hearing balanced evidence.”
Mayor Bonne’s concern that the liability for damages claims which may arise in future rests with the local bodies fluoridating public water rather than policy makers, is relevant, says Dr. Litras.
“While DHBs around the country put pressure on councils to fluoridate their water, claiming it is safe and effective, neither they nor central government have the conviction in their own advice to take liability, by giving councils a written guarantee that they will be liable if found to be wrong. Other councils should take note”.
FIND (Fluoride Information Network for Dentists) is an independent study group of dentists, established in 2013, and does not represent the current views of the New Zealand Dental Association, who for their part endorse water fluoridation.