From dental neglect to child abuse?


Talk about conflicts of  interest!

The article, Children’s Health: Shift focus to care of young – MPs,  in yesterday’s NZ Herald really sparked a response in me: 

It opens with this:

Cross-party inquiry comes up with strong message for change from emphasis on caring for people late in life.

 New Zealand must change its health-care priorities from the last two years of life to the womb if it is to improve its record on child health and child abuse, an inquiry has found.

More than half the Government’s $14 billion health budget goes towards caring for people late in life.

The parliamentary health committee says this is contrary to widely accepted research which shows that it would make more economic and social sense to do the exact reverse by focusing on the period between pre-conception and 3 years of age.”

So here I am – at the stage of life where our government is investing half its health budget. Yet my experience cries out to me that the suggested change of emphasis makes sense – for the good of individuals and society.

Most people agree we have to do something about child poverty, child neglect and child abuse in this country. Re-prioritising social health investment would go a long way to doing that. Surely its a no-brainer – look after the health of our children and we get healthier adults in the future who will be more resistant to health problems – even in old age. Investing in the health of children is an investment in the future of all ages – and the health of society in general.

The report

You can download the report which has the rather long title – here

It is actually a report from the NZ Parliamentary Health Committee. The Committee make specific recommendations in it and the report now goes to the government for consideration.

A sample of the chapter headings gives an idea of the report’s scope:

  • The economics of early intervention with children
  • Pre-conception care and sexual and reproductive health
  • Social economic determinants of health and wellbeing
  • Improving nutrition and reducing obesity and related non-communicable diseases
  • Alcohol, tobacco, and drug harm
  • Maternity care and post-birth monitoring
  • Leadership, whole-of-government approach, and vulnerable children
  • Immunisation
  • Oral health
  • Early childhood education
  • Collaboration, information sharing, and service integration
  • Research on children

I have only read part of the report so far so will just comment here on the Oral Health chapter – being quite relevant at the moment.

It introduces the problem with:

“Oral disease is among the most prevalent chronic diseases in New Zealand and among the most preventable in all age groups. We heard that oral disease and their consequences, such as embarrassment, pain, and self-consciousness, can have a profound effect on a person’s quality of life and ability to gain employment. Millions of school and work hours are lost globally to pain and infection from dental disease and the time needed to treat them. Caries can also affect children’s development, school performance, and behaviour, and thus families and society in general. Promoting good oral health benefits children of all

True – but I would add the effects of poor oral health in childhood have repercussions right through life – even effecting the quality of one’s life in old age. I see this as a specific example of how investment in children’s health will reduce health costs for the elderly in the future.

Many causes of poor oral health

The report says the “risk factors and indicators for dental caries:”

” include socioeconomic deprivation, suboptimal fluoride exposure, ethnicity, poor oral hygiene, prolonged infant bottle feeding, poor family dental health, enamel defects, and irregular dental care.”

It expresses concern, and frustration, about the situation with availability of fluoridated drinking water:

“At present approximately only 55 percent of New Zealanders receive optimally fluoridated reticulated drinking water and coverage has recently decreased following decisions from the local councils in New Plymouth and Hamilton to cease fluoridating their water supplies. No substantial increases in coverage have occurred for over two decades.”

Its recommendations in this chapter include two about fluoridation:

102 We recommend to the Government that it work with the Ministry of Health to ensure that the addition of fluoride to the drinking water supply is backed by strong scientific evidence and that ongoing monitoring of the scientific evidence is undertaken by, or for, the Ministry of Health, and that the Director-General of Health is required to report periodically to the Minister of Health on the status of the evidence and coverage of community water fluoridation.

This is already happening to an extent with the National Fluoride Information Service and I hope their work continues and possibly expands. Scientific knowledge is always improving so it is important that we keep and eye on research findings and adjust health policies if, and when, necessary.

103 We recommend to the Government that it work with Local Government New Zealand and the Ministry of Health to make district health boards responsible for setting standards around water-quality monitoring and adjustments to meet World Health Organisation standards (or their equivalent), including the optimal level of fluoridation of water supplies. Part of the work programme would be to ensure that costs imposed on councils relating to standards and monitoring, are realistic and affordable. This should be implemented within two years of this report being published.”

It will be interesting to see how the government reacts to this recommendation. Fluoridation has become a bit of a political football for local bodies. This is not good because local body councillors can often have minority viewpoints and tend to be more easily influenced by ideologically motivated political activists. It seems more responsible that such important health issues are handled centrally by bodies with health expertise.

Dental neglect is child neglect

Another recommendation in the Oral Health chapter struck a chord with me:

“109 We recommend to the Government that “dental neglect” be defined as an important category of child neglect and recognised and managed accordingly. Systems must be established for following up children who do not attend scheduled appointments, and therefore risk pain from dental abscesses and untreated decay.”

Considering the consequences of child dental neglect I fully endorse that recommendation. Perhaps I would go even further – my reading having encouraged me to think of child neglect as a form of child abuse.

Perhaps we should admit that child dental neglect is a form of child abuse?

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19 responses to “From dental neglect to child abuse?

  1. I agree, it should be a central government mandate, that would stop these law suits and take the hard decisions away from local areas, with pressure from activist groups. And if the costs involved were factored in.Fluoride is probably the cheap option as far as dental health costs are concerned


  2. I see the Herald editorial had this to say today about the report:

    “One suggestion with which the Government should not quibble is the transfer of responsibility for fluoridating community water supplies to the Ministry of Health and district health boards. This would ensure there is no repeat of the farcical withdrawal of fluoride in Hamilton and New Plymouth. A noisy minority would no longer be able to prey on the ineptitude of councillors. Decisions on fluoridation would, instead, be made on the basis of overwhelming scientific opinion. Referendums in Whakatane and Hastings last month confirmed that the switch from council control would be welcomed. Children’s oral health is at stake.”


  3. Hamilton was a joke and cost the local area a heap of money for no result, Auckland is in their sights and Wellington is starting to rumble as well. Its time to nip it in the bud


  4. I too would support central government control of fluoridation rather than control currently held at local council level; Connet’s divide and conquer strategy of selectively attacking local body politicians with a fear mongering and Gish Galloping tactics would easily be avoided.

    In this vein, note that on 4th Nov, in The Press here in ChCh,

    “Christchurch-based New Health New Zealand will face off against the South Taranaki District Council in a judicial review over a decision to fluoridate water supplies in Patea and Waverley.”;

    I had a quick look at what New Health New Zealand is. I can see why moron was imbedded into oxymoron.

    ….seriously take a look –

    Conspiracies for Africa! And this organisation is a Charitable Trust!!! Chem Trails, Anti Vax, Anti fluoride, you name it.

    I despair


  5. Anti-fluoride cross-pollinating with chemtrails and and the anti-vaxxers?
    You surprise me.
    So far we’ve seen climate deniers and HIV denial come out and proudly derp. What’s a few more conspiracy theories and anti-science nonsense to add to the mix?
    Ah what the heck, let’s have some fun and take a peek:

    “… a loss of New Zealand sovereignty . Our Parliament would no longer have total control in this area and there are serious questions(..)The Australian TGA is out of control and would impose an enormous and unwarranted cost(..)increased prices and reduced choice. (..)The costs to businesses under the TGA are staggering(..)enormous costs to businesses and huge discretionary powers of application and enforcement which can be used to punish anyone who displeases them. (..)reveals the tragedy of how the United States government, industry, and trade associations protect and promote a policy known to cause harm to our country and especially small children(..)the outcome is crystal clear: it is destroying our nation.(…) Ingesting fluoride has been linked to over a dozen serious health problems, including reduced IQ, impaired neurobehavioral development and brain damage. The fluoride added to drinking water supplies is a waste product from the phosphate fertilizer industry(…)putting a poison in our drinking water(…)our government has known for a very long time that sodium fluoride, even in weak concentrations, is damaging and destructive to cellular tissue. Fluoride: they’ve known the dangers all along…(..) “It’s a rat poison,”(…) They use hydrofluosilicic acid. This is raw untreated hazardous waste(…)impossible to control the delivered dose of fluoride in the population. Fluoridation unavoidably produces overdoses of fluoride, especially among infants(…)The hidden story behind vaccines, big pharma, and food. The hidden story about vaccines, autism, drugs and food… Americas health has been BOUGHT.”…. and on and on and on and on and on it goes.

    It’s one long OMG! OMG!!OMG!!!! Oogity-Boogity fest.
    You’d think that the idiots that get taken in by this stuff would reach saturation point with the mass overkill of hysterical language and figure out though sheer exhaustion that the writers are trying to push their emotional buttons and get just a little bit suspicious.

    I noticed that the evergreen “poisoned horses” story was promoted with breathless excitement.
    Is there an anti-fluoride site that doesn’t wave it about?


  6. When you look at the website boy the first thing is a vidio from uncle Paul then a list of articles from the snake oil salesman Mercola and furthur down is Mr Spittle So he seems to have all the reputable people on board And it shows the type of outfit he is running I would say FANN by another name. So if he lodges the law suit in the ‘naki it leaves the local FANNZ with clean hands, or so they think. the same people are pulling the strings


  7. It appears like FANNZ may be involved. Although it is not entirely clear in the article who is seeking judicial review, whether it is “The New Zealand Health Trust “ or their incorporated body “New Health NZ Incorporated” – it appears the latter.
    Looking at the financials for the former, it appears that the Trust is quite small and maybe unable to underwrite costs involved with a judicial review? But FANNZ’s input may be inferred also from a recent post…

    “South Taranaki District Council – Hawera only fluoridated town at this stage although council voted last year to extend to Patea and Waverly despite finding out vast majority did not want it. Judicial Review now lodged with New Plymouth District Council objecting to the decision on the basis that fluoridation has no legal standing and is a breech of human right. 30th April 2013 Taranaki Daily News – Ruling Ends up in Court”

    It wouldn’t surprise me however if FANNZ contributes to this action in part or full, and like you say Chris, keeps “Clean” hands, especially as the views of The New Zealand Health Trust are way… way out there –
    I will be looking at court ruling from the judicial review with relish!


  8. These organisations are all into astroturfing anyway. I guess a trust may have some sort of legal significance when to comes to collecting expenses.

    Behind them all seems to be business interests in alternative health and alternative medical supplements.



  9. My God – the anti fluoridationists are setting up a conspiracy network to take over the health industry with a series of trusts. They must be stopped or the existing trusts supporting fluoride may be forced out of existence and a whole raft of businesses making money out of fluoridation will cease operating. Disaster will befall us all!


  10. Trevor, care to tell as what businesses make money out of fluoridation – and how they have gone out of existence since Hamilton stopped fluoridation?


  11. Another conspiracy Trevor! Or is this the anti conspiracy conspiracy?
    Aren’t there enough to choose from?

    What’s your flavour?
    Big Business, mind control, reproductive reduction – Let me guess, fluoride in Chem Trails!


  12. I only know of a few people I bet are making money out of fluoride and they are all activists Connett Hitzy and I bet Deal doing all the legal stuff


  13. Chris, what about water filter manufactures and retailers? I see several of them promoting their products be telling lies about fluoride.

    Similarly, I notice a high frequency of alternative and natural health practitioners amongst the ranks of the anti-fluoridation activists. Surely they get a financial benefit from promoting the anti-fluoride message.



  14. Sorry Ken. I did not think outside the square. You are right, it is a cash cow for a lot of people


  15. Apparently in the US the vitamin and supplement industry is worth about US$34 billion. Add on the natural health practitioners and it is a really big business with sufficient motivation to promote an anti-science message.



  16. Someone asked what my flavour is – simple really, I have spent my 69 years bringing up a family to believe in truth, justice and common sense. In 24 years in business I have never ripped anyone off, never reneged on an agreement or not paid a legitimate debt. When I got slaughtered in the GFC I went back to paid employment and retired two years ago due to ill health.
    My retirement has given me the opportunity to spend ( my wife says waste) considerable time looking at both sides of the issue.
    My concern over fluoride stemmed from my wife being prescribed fluoride tabs in 1966 by a GP whilst pregnant – my son had all his teeth bar 4 removed as a pre-schooler. We now know that the cause was probably fluorosis. Leading up to the 2006 referendum I trawled through the material on both sides of the argument and decided those opposed to fluoridation seemed more believable than the promoters of CWF. I suppose I have long held the belief that when big business and money are involved it pays to reflect carefully on the motivation behind the views being expressed.
    So it is with the fluoride industry and the background to their association with CWF is well documented.
    When HCC voted to hold a tribunal I was delighted because it removed the bias and lack of balance by the promoters of fluoridation from the equation. It was obvious from the 2006 referendum that the side with the money would overwhelm the anti-fluoride lobby and it was no surprise to me (or Craig Climo) that the tribunal outcome would be overturned with a referendum.
    The denial of a fair and transparent process and the involvement of barefaced political opportunism in the run-up to the vote has led me and a lot of other fair minded and reasonably educated and sensible people to say enough of the historic bullshit, deceit and spin-doctoring, let’s get this sorted.
    It is you guys who are committed to living in caves while the rest of the world have decided moved out, have seen the light and discovered the truth.
    You have turned into a bunch of backslappers who are so besotted with the falsity of the material you are promoting you wouldn’t recognise the truth if it hit you in the mouth. Your stand on fluoride is beyond pathetic as is your response to Paul Connett’s contribution. By the way, if you actually read his book you would find that he doesn’t subscribe to conspiracy theories, nor the Nazi involvement or to the so-called chem trails. Wrong again guys!


  17. Trevor, I am currently reading Connett’s book and so far have not found any evidence he supports those conspiracy theories – or any evidence that he does not (interestingly, for many anti-fluoride activists that would prove that he does!).

    If you read what I say I do not claim Paul supports those conspiracy theory. I am simply asking that clarify his attitude towards them.

    I fully expect Paul to say he does not support those conspiracy theories and that will be good – I hope that message gets through to his supporters who are promoting them. Unfortunately, Connett has a history of cooperating with extremists like this so one can understand his position is confusing. Especially as the scientific evidence does not support his obsession with these claims about IQ.

    What about you, Trevor, do you support Vinny Eastwood and his slanderous claims made about local scientists? Do you support his stupid video attack on me?



  18. My retirement has given me the opportunity to spend ( my wife says waste) considerable time looking at both sides of the issue.

    Translation: You’ve spent a lot of time on the internet giving equal weight to scientific sources of information and crappy blogs written in Comic Sans because you are clueless about vetting your sources of information.

    my son had all his teeth bar 4 removed as a pre-schooler. We now know…

    It’s not your conclusions that interest us nor your anecdotes.
    It’s your methodology.
    Unless your methodology is solid, you will be led by the nose by any Tom, Dick or Harry quack out there.

    Leading up to the 2006 referendum I trawled through the material on both sides of the argument and decided those opposed to fluoridation seemed more believable than the promoters of CWF.

    And your methodology? How did you prevent yourself from succumbing to your own biases? Details?

    I suppose I have long held the belief that when big business and money are involved it pays to reflect carefully on the motivation behind the views being expressed.

    Can you see how that could lead you up a garden path? What did you do to prevent yourself from indulging in conspiracy theories?

    So it is with the fluoride industry and the background to their association with CWF is well documented.

    Conspiracy theories don’t work. It’s not “the fluoride industry”. It’s you vs the scientific consensus. There’s no mechanism to make a scientific conspiracy work.

    The denial of a fair and transparent process and the involvement of barefaced political opportunism….

    How does the conspiracy work? What are the nuts and bolts of the operation? Let’s start with the CDC. Do they control it or are they merely the patsies?

    It is you guys who…

    No. It’s not “you guys”. It’s the scientific community. Framing it as “you guys” makes you feel better. I understand that. That way this all somehow devolves into just “you guys” vs “our guys” and it seems so reasonable. After all, picking a side in opposition to “you guys” doesn’t seem so strange.
    Only it’s not “you guys”.
    It’s the CDC and all the relevent health authorities on the planet and the decades of work they represent.
    It’s the scientific consensus.
    When you frame it like that, then this stand you are taking doesn’t sound in the least bit reasonable.
    It makes you sound potty.

    By the way, if you actually read his book you would find that he doesn’t subscribe to conspiracy theories….

    It always goes back to conspiracy theories.
    It’s inescapable.

    Chrisopher Atkinson on the Fluoride thread asked this question:

    “Why do you think the mainstream scientific community and health authorities have it so wrong?

    Deal answered with…

    “The answer is easy. Big chemical companies will lie for money. With their money they have taken over the agencies which regulate them. The chemical companies have duped the FDA, EPA, CDC, and you.

    Christopher replied:

    ” So you think that the tens of thousands of scientists and researchers who submit to peer review, scattered across the planet with the intention of furthering their respective field of inquiry are just plain dumb?
    Or that chemical companies are so cunning…so so cunning that they pin tails, nay, thousands of tails on scientists and call them weasels.

    Trevor, you are not doing any better. You have been sold a lemon. You can suck it yourself. The rest of us are not so gullible.


  19. Hi Trevor,

    So what “fact” or piece of evidence do you find most compelling?


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