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Most NZers do not support fluoridation, study says

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

By Mary Byrne, National Coordinator and Spokesperson, Fluoride Free New Zealand

This is the finding of a new survey carried out by Hawke’s Bay District Health Board: 58% of people did not support fluoridation even "somewhat". This shows that people are really clear - New Zealanders do not agree with adding an industrial by-product, classified as hazardous, to our drinking water. Many of those who thought it may be good for teeth, still thought it shouldn’t be in the water supply. Perhaps this is because more than half of those surveyed said they were aware of health risks related to water fluoridation.

TV3’s online article about this study went on to state serious factual errors. The truth is that since New Plymouth ended fluoridation in 2011, there has been NO increase in dental decay rates, according to annual statistics available on the Ministry of Health website.

Official DHB data supplied to the public health education and advocacy group, Fluoride Free New Zealand, also show there has been no increase in the number of general anaesthetic surgeries for dental decay in New Plymouth children. In fact, data for 5 year olds show fluoridated Hawera has a far higher rate of these surgeries than non-fluoridated New Plymouth.

These high rates of severe decay in fluoridated areas highlight the complete failure of fluoridation to help those most in need. Additionally, Ministry of Health statistics show non-fluoridated areas often have less decay than fluoridated areas. Severe dental decay is a disease of poverty, poor nutrition, and lack of access to dental resources. The DHBs in this country are wasting tens of thousands of dollars defending and pushing fluoridation when they should be spending that money on targeted programmes that really work.

Non-fluoridated Scotland has been running the successful, cost-saving Childsmile programme since 2001. They have been able to drastically reduce dental decay and cut in half the number of general anaesthetics required for children with dental decay. This programme is saving Scotland, which has a similar population to New Zealand, more than 5 million pounds and thousands of fillings per year!

Since the DHB study has found that most New Zealanders don’t want fluoridation chemicals added to their water, and many are concerned about the health risks, Dr Rob Beaglehole, spokesperson for the New Zealand Dental Association and member of the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board, thinks the Government should therefore force fluoridated water on everyone without their permission, and without anyone allowed to have a say.

The plea for District Health Boards to take responsibility for fluoridation away from local councils is really a backdoor avenue for mandatory fluoridation for the entire country. DHBs are obligated to enact Ministry of Health policies. If this were to happen, New Zealand would join only two other countries in the world that have mandatory fluoridation; the Republic of Ireland and Singapore. At present, only 52% of New Zealand is fluoridated with only 23 out of 67 local councils choosing to do so.

It is completely unacceptable for DHBs and paid defenders of fluoridation to continue to push this outdated, ineffective and unsafe practice, particularly when there are programmes they could be implementing that really work, are safe for everyone and save money.

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