26 August 2014

The New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA) welcomes the report released by the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor, Professor Peter Gluckman, examining the scientific evidence for and against community water fluoridation.  The report Health Effects of Community Water Fluoridation: a review of the Scientific Evidenceconfirms that the levels of fluoridation used in New Zealand are safe and effective in reducing tooth decay.

“We know that fluoride has a protective effect against tooth decay and we know that community water fluoridation is the most effective way to reach the entire population, including those with poor oral health,” says NZMA Chair Dr Mark Peterson.  “We have, however, been concerned for some time that decisions on fluoridation have been swayed by questions about negative health effects.  This comprehensive review of the evidence will lay these concerns to rest.”

The NZMA has previously called for a nationally consistent approach to water fluoridation. 

“Central Government and the Ministry of Health should have full responsibility for this public health measure.  This is a significant equity issue – while everyone benefits from fluoridation of our water supplies, this is particularly so for lower socio-economic communities.  Leadership at a national level is required.”

This position is backed up by findings in the review report:“Our assessment suggests that it is appropriate, from the scientific perspective, that fluoridation be expanded to assist those New Zealand communities that currently do not benefit from this public health measure – particularly those with a high prevalence of dental caries.”

“We look forward to seeing action on this,” says Dr Peterson.