Dr Alex McIntosh shares his opinion on the much-debated topic of fluoridation of New Zealand’s public water supplies.
I have been reading with interest the debate over fluoridation of public water supplies which has recently appeared in the media once again. There are individuals and organisations prominently opposed to adding fluoride to New Zealand’s water supplies who claim the science should not be ignored. Unfortunately, these groups are misguided in their beliefs. There are literally hundreds of scientific studies showing the benefits of fluoridated public water supplies, and none that show any negative effects. Lower socio-economic groups particularly benefit from water fluoridation. It is the most effective and beneficial public health measure we have in New Zealand. It is a fact that New Zealanders had high tooth decay rates before fluoridation was introduced. And when you consider the levels of sugar which are in our food and drink in today’s diet, fluoridation is even more essential. Tragically, a person died just last week in New Zealand from a dental infection, and anything we can do as a community to help promote health – and particularly dental health – is important.
There is a huge amount of misinformation and disinformation available, and while it may be persuasive it is completely unfounded. Having worked in the dental profession for well over 40 years, I can unequivocally say that fluoridation helps to prevent dental decay and protect oral health – and it is safe. As a nation we should listen to our health experts. Look at what has happened in the United States when the politicians did not listen to their public health experts: 400,000 deaths from Covid-19 and counting.
Dr Alex McIntosh