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Getting the facts on fluoride

A new website, www.fluoridefacts.govt.nz will help local communities make informed decisions on water fluoridation, Health Minister Tony Ryall says.

The most recent nationwide New Zealand survey into oral health showed 40 percent less tooth decay on average for children living in fluoridated areas compared with non-fluoridated areas, Mr Ryall says.

“Some information circulating about community water fluoridation is either confusing or misleading. This website, which is supported by the Ministry of Health, district health boards and the New Zealand Dental and Medical Associations, contains evidence-based information, backed-up by research.”

New Zealand’s Chief Science Advisor, Professor Sir Peter Gluckman is among the several health professionals, scientists and community leaders who feature in a video series on fluoride also on the website. Professor Gluckman says: “It’s absolutely clear that the levels of fluoride that are put into New Zealand’s water supply – and are clearly regulated – are safe. They have real health benefits and there are no health risks.”

Mr Ryall noted that fluoride occurs naturally in water but New Zealand, like several other countries, has low levels. “Many countries in similar situations supplement fluoride to optimum levels for dental health benefit by adding it to the community water supply, or in some cases milk or salt.”

In New Zealand the levels of fluoride used in community water fluoridation are carefully monitored and within the guidelines of the World Health Organization and other public health agencies.

Mr Ryall says tooth decay, which is less likely in individuals when fluoride is added to the water supply, is painful and costly when fillings are needed to treat it. Community water fluoridation is effective, safe and an affordable way to provide the dental health benefits to everyone in a community.”

“People should refer to www.fluoridefacts.govt.nz  and come to their own conclusions when deciding to support community water fluoridation.”

For further information, including videos from Chief Science Advisor, Professor Sir Peter Gluckman, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr Don Mackie, Chief Dental Officer Dr Robyn Haisman-Welsh and Children’s Commissioner Dr Russell Wills, along with other health experts and community leaders, see: www.fluoridefacts.govt.nz

Further information also available from www.Health.govt.nz and www.nfis.org.nz the National Fluoride Information Service.

In New Zealand community water fluoridation is endorsed by the following organisations:

  • Ministry of Health
  • District Health Boards
  • New Zealand Dental Association
  • New Zealand Medical Association
  • Public Health Association of New Zealand
  • New Zealand Nurses Organisation
  • Te Ao Marama – the Māori Dental Association
  • Toi Te Ora – Public Health Service
  • Office of the New Zealand Children’s Commissioner
  • New Zealand College of Public Health Medicine
  • NZ Dental and Oral Health Therapists Association
  • NZ Society of Hospital and Community Dentistry
  • NZ Oral Health Clinical Leadership Network Group
  • Royal New Zealand Plunket Society
  • Cancer Society of New Zealand
  • The Royal Australasian College of Physicians
  • Royal Australasian College of Dental Surgeons

Editor’s notes: The Ministry of Health’s New Zealand Oral Health Survey, 2009, showed 40 percent less tooth decay on average for children in fluoridated areas than non-fluoridated areas. A copy is available on the Ministry of Health website: www.health.govt.nz/publications

ENDS

Media contact: Jackie Maher 021 243 7803 or Jannel Carter 027 589 8884

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