The overwhelming body of scientific and statistical evidence does not support fluoridation.

Decay rates have been dropping all around the world in fluoridated and non-fluoridated countries at the same rate for many decades. Decay rates have dropped similarly in New Zealand in both the fluoridated and non-fluoridated areas. Decay rates have continued to drop in towns and cities when fluoridation is stopped.

Latest New Zealand research (2016) carried out by pro-fluoride dentists shows there is no difference in decay rates for the majority of New Zealand children regardless of fluoridation status. However, the Government continues to rely on the 2009 Oral Health Survey to base their claims of efficacy rather the latest study, or the studies prior to the survey. Surveys are not scientifically robust. The authors of the survey warn that the survey should not be used to draw conclusions on fluoridation as they did not know life time exposure as it was a snap-shot in time. See more on the 2009 Oral Health Survey here.

Scientific Theories: Proven False

It is now known that fluoride does not work by swallowing. Fluoridation was originally based on the theory that fluoride should be swallowed while children’s teeth were growing, so that it could be incorporated into the tooth enamel.  It was believed that would make the teeth more resistant to decay. However, that theory has now been rejected even by fluoridation promoters. They now claim the primary benefit of fluoride comes from contact to the surface of the teeth. That being the case, it makes no sense to swallow fluoride.

In 2015 the world renown Cochrane Collaboration did a review of fluoridation efficacy studies, Water fluoridation to prevent tooth decay. They said that the introduction of fluoridation reduced dental decay but “These results are based predominantly on old studies and may not be applicable today”.

The latest theory on fluoridation doesn’t hold water

In Hamilton in 2013, consultant for the now defunct National Fluoridation Information Service, Dr Robin Whyman explained the new theory. He said that when fluoride is swallowed, it is stored in the bones and soft tissue. It is then released during the day into the blood stream and eventually secreted by the salivary glands, providing a topical benefit to the tooth surface.

But simple math shows this new theory does not hold water any more than the older dis-proven theory as the amount of fluoride required for topical benefit is much higher than what is secreted from the salivary glands.

The Ministry of Health advises that children should brush their teeth with adult strength toothpaste containing fluoride of 1,000 parts per million (ppm) rather than the child strength toothpaste, which only has 400ppm. They say that 400ppm is not strong enough to provide a benefit. Yet fluoridated water only contains 0.85ppm and the amount secreted into the salivary glands is only 0.016ppm.

This doesn’t add up. If 400ppm child strength is not strong enough to provide a benefit, how can the 0.016ppm that is secreted from the salivary glands provide a benefit? 0.016ppm is approximately 62,500 times less fluoride than 1,000ppm in adult strength toothpaste.The New Zealand dentists group Fluoride Information Network for Dentists also explain scientifically why this theory is flawed.

However, you don’t need to be a scientist as common sense tells us that this is not a credible theory. Remember, they were wrong about the previous theory.

Concentration of fluoride in toothpaste compared to fluoride secreted by salivary glands.

Statistics can be Misleading

Statistics are often used in a misleading way to promote and defend fluoridation. Review of the New Zealand Ministry of Health school dental data and all large scale studies undertaken around the world shows us there is no, or very little, difference in decay rates between fluoridated and non-fluoridated areas, and even that non-fluoridated areas often have less decay. This shows that there is no proven benefit from fluoridation. A consistent benefit has never been shown.

However, fluoridation promoters select comparison statistics that are carefully cherry-picked. This is fraudulently misleading.

For example, in New Zealand, fluoridation promoters constantly hold up the Canterbury-Wellington study of 2004 in an endeavour to convince the public that fluoridation reduces dental decay. However, Wellington has the best dental health in the country, so it could be compared to anywhere and Wellington would have better teeth.

Most importantly, non fluoridated Canterbury has had consistently better dental health than most fluoridated areas of New Zealand, including fluoridated Auckland, Dunedin and Hamilton, for more than a decade. Canterbury also has consistently better teeth than the fluoridated average of the whole of NZ. Many other areas in NZ that are not fluoridated, also have very good dental health, such as Nelson-Marlborough and Taranaki. In Southland, the Ministry of Health statistics show no difference between fluoridated Invercargill and the rest of non-fluoridated Southland.

And when places stop fluoridation, decay rates stay the same or improve:

Since 1986, fluoridation has ended in Timaru, Tauranga, Matamata, Kaitaia, Kaikohe, Ashburton, Taumarunui, New Plymouth, and Waipukurau. NZ Ministry of Health statistics now show dental decay reduction in all of these areas! Studies from overseas also show the same trend.

Decay rates have been dropping all around the world in fluoridated and non fluoridated countries at the same rate for many decades.

Researchers have suggested reasons for world-wide dental health improvement. Better nutrition, an increase in the consumption of cheese, antibiotic use, the advent of refrigeration and changes in diagnostic criteria may all have played a part.

The old ‘drill and fill’ technique has been discontinued. School dental nurses in NZ used to drill and fill the naturally healthy crevices in teeth because it was  believed this prevented dental decay. This would undoubtedly have led to unnecessary fillings for many New Zealanders. Fortunately, younger New Zealanders don’t have these unnecessary extra fillings.

The Ministry of Health no longer advocates fluoride tablets as a public health measure.

After New Plymouth stopped fluoridation in 2011, the then Chief Oral Health Advisor for the Ministry of Health, Dr Robyn Haisman-Welsh, advised the public that fluoride tablets were not the answer and residents should brush their teeth.

It has transpired that the previous advice given by the Ministry of Health and the New Zealand Dental Association for parents to give their children fluoride tablets was wrong.  This goes to show that these organisations can be wrong and there is no reason to believe that they cannot be wrong about fluoridation. In fact, if they were wrong about fluoride tablets, because they now say that the primary benefit is topical (i.e. works on the outside) rather than systemic (i.e. by swallowing) then it stands to reason that they are wrong about fluoridation.

Tooth decay is caused by poverty and a poor diet, not a lack of fluoride

We know that poverty is one of the biggest predictors of poor dental health. Many people do not realise that they should never put any sweetened drink, or even flavoured milk, into a baby’s bottle. Leaving babies to suck on a bottle is the cause of baby bottle tooth decay (early childhood caries).  This is the main cause of children suffering extreme dental decay and needing tooth extractions.

People had perfect and beautiful teeth around the world before the introduction of modern diets with refined sugars and processed foods. Dr Weston A. Price was a dentist who spent many years researching dental health and nutrition in the 1930s around the world. Dr Price studied Maori and many other populations before the introduction of commercialised foods.  Dr Price studied three Maori iwi who were still eating their traditional diet and found they had perfect teeth and were exceptionally healthy.

Good nutrition, reducing sugar intake, regular dental check ups and education are key to healthy teeth.