Another whopper from the anti-fluoridation movement in New Zealand.
They claimed yesterday that “data released by the Ministry of Health today confirm that water fluoridation is having no noticeable effect in reducing tooth decay” (see DHB Data Show No Benefit From Water Fluoridation).
Yet a simple scan of the data (which can be downloaded from the MoH website) shows this to be patently untrue.
Here is a graphical summary of the New Zealand-wide data for 5-year-olds and year 8 children. It is for 2014 and I have separated the data ethnically as well as presenting the summary for all children (“total”).
DMFT and dmft = decayed, missing and filled teeth.
The data for all children (“total”) Maori and “other” show children in fluoridated areas have a higher percentage of caries-free teeth and a lower mean value of decayed, missing and filled teeth. The data for Pacifica are less definite – because the vast majority of Pacific children live in fluoridated areas. I discussed this further in my last post A challenge to anti-fluoridationers to justify their misrepresentation of New Zealand research.
So the headline and main message of the anti-fluoridationists press release were outright lies. However, they will fall back on the claim that the press release does contain some facts. But these are just cherry-picked snippets taken out of context to confirm the bias of the anti-fluoride mind.
For example, comparing data for Christchurch and Nelson-Marlborough with those for Auckland and Counties-Manukau is just disingenuous if the ethnic differences (which we know clearly play a role in oral health) are not considered. Similarly, reference to the 2o14 “overturning” of the Hamilton Council decision to stop fluoridation is just silly considering that there are no separate data for the city and the Hamilton Council fiasco over water fluoridation overlapped the period the data covers.
Of course, this press release has been processed through the international anti-fluoridation – “natural”/alternative health media channels so expect to be bombarded with international reports based on these lies.
The lesson from this little story – don’t take claims made by anti-fluoridation campaigners, or similar activists with an anti-science agenda, at face value. Always check them out.