A New Zealand study published in BMC Oral Health last month shows dental health improved the greatest extent for children in non-fluoridated areas. There is now no difference in dental decay rates between non-Maori children who live in fluoridated areas and non-Maori children who live in non-fluoridated areas, proving that fluoridation is not needed for children to obtain good dental health. There has been an improvement in child dental health over the past ten years right across New Zealand.
Maori children living in all areas had poorer dental health than non-Maori children (both fluoridated and non-fluoridated areas). This research shows that fluoridation has not closed the health disparity gap. If health authorities are serious about helping Maori children achieve the same outcomes as non-Maori, they need to look at what is different about the two groups, rather than clinging to a public health policy that they themselves have proved is not the answer.
The study showed Maori children are getting much less dental care in New Zealand. There was a big difference in how often examination rates carried out by the publicly funded, free for everyone, Child Oral Health Service between Maori and non-Maori children. Around 80% of non-Maori children underwent an examination, compared to only 60% of Maori children. Therefore, a programme focused on ensuring all children are seen by a dental health nurse every year should be key to improving the dental health outcomes and closing the health care gap between Maori and non-Maori children.
The study also found that between 2007 and 2014, pre-school enrolments in the Child Oral Health Service rose 73%. This adds more weight to the thought that receiving early childhood dental health care is vital if we want to improve dental health outcomes.
Authors of the study should now be analysing which Maori children received a dental examination. That is perhaps the reason Maori children in non-fluoridated areas have more dental decay. Non-fluoridated areas are generally the smaller towns and rural areas, with less access to services.
Some Health organisations’ dogmatic adherence and promotion of fluoridation is hampering proven successful programmes by diverting money into fluoridation programmes that not only do no good, they put people’s health at risk, potentially causing millions of dollars to be spent on other health problems.
According to the Ministry of Health, 40% of New Zealand children have some form of dental fluorosis. This permanent damage is the first outward sign of fluoride poisoning. Now with this latest research proving that fluoridation is not needed, it is obviously unjustifiable to continue fluoridation. Instead, we need to take serious, immediate action to reduce fluoride exposure, as Auckland council has just done last week. The easiest way to do this is to stop fluoridation immediately completely, across New Zealand.
Claims by the Minister of Health and Dr Beaglehole, spokesperson on fluoridation for the New Zealand Dental Association are completely out of step with the facts and these people should be held to account for misleading the New Zealand public with false claims.
Note: Caries free means no dental decay. dmft = decay, missing or filled teeth.