I graduated as a School Dental Nurse in 1969 – we were taught during our training that diet, oral hygiene and fluoride went hand in hand in oral health. One of my dental training officers was the late Dr John Colquhoun. It is interesting to note that Dr Colquhoun went on to study here and overseas, the affects of fluoride. After much study he became a prominent opponent of fluoridation. In fact in his own studies in 1984, 1985 and 1987 he found no difference in tooth decay between fluoridated and non-fluoridated communities in New Zealand.
I was aware, as a young School Dental Nurse that there were opponents to water fluoridation but they were dismissed as mostly American ‘crackpots’ and we are only talking about 1ppm water – how can this possibly be harmful as these cranks were suggesting. I even argued with the late Dr Eva hill at a public meeting over 30 years ago, she being opposed and me for. We were taught in Dental School simply that this addition of fluoride (we certainly never heard of Hydrofluorosilicic Acid) was an amazingly simple answer to prevention of tooth decay. And we did not need to question the matter.
Indeed, much later in my life, I queried my dental nurse inspector, the late Miss Jean Bryant, about her thoughts on fluoride – her answer “Oh well, we were taught not to question”. The reason I asked her, her thoughts, was because I had misgivings, I had long since given up fluoridated toothpaste, I drank non-fluoridated water and started questioning water fluoridation when so many countries in the world ceased the practice – due to general health concerns from ingestion of fluoride and the issue of human rights.
Of course this is about health education. One school I worked in, as I was preparing my steriliser and instruments I looked out the window (before 9am) and saw children eating doughnuts. After a week I complained to the Headmaster and within a short time the doughnut man no longer visited before school. It’s about Health education.
It seems to me that we have ‘forgotten’ that it is about oral hygiene and diet. Sugary juices and fizzy drinks are consumed with wild abandon, processed foods and sugar laden foods have much to answer for – it’s about education.