Ban the bot­tle

The Northland Age - - Opinion - MAR­GARET BURGESS Hast­ings

The poor state of North­land chil­dren’s teeth was fea­tured in TV1 News on Sun­day, along with the pro­posed so­lu­tion: flu­o­ri­da­tion. How­ever, what most view­ers would prob­a­bly not no­tice was that the shot of a three-year-old’s mouth showed the top teeth were rot­ten, but the bot­tom teeth were not.

Pro­fes­sor Con­nett, an ex­pert on flu­o­ri­da­tion who was on a speak­ing tour of New Zealand last month, pointed out that it was the top teeth of small chil­dren that were so hor­ri­bly dam­aged and needed ex­trac­tion. The rea­son: they’d been dam­aged by long-time suck­ing on baby bot­tles con­tain­ing sug­ary liq­uids such as juice (or even Coca-Cola). But the lower teeth had been pro­tected by the tongue and were rea­son­ably all right.

Lack of flu­o­ride had noth­ing to do with the prob­lem of rot­ten teeth in small chil­dren.

Ac­cord­ing to the Min­istry of Health, 41 per cent of New Zealand chil­dren have den­tal flu­o­ro­sis, which is the first sign of flu­o­ride poi­son­ing. What should be of great con­cern is that flu­o­ride low­ers IQ lev­els. Re­search shows that in­tel­li­gence quo­tients (IQs) went down around seven points when chil­dren drank flu­o­ri­dated wa­ter for a length of time. A dose of only 1.4mg per day was shown to lower IQ by five points.

What this means is very im­por­tant. The num­ber of very bright chil­dren, with an IQ of 130 or more, will be re­duced by half. At the other end of the scale, the num­ber of men­tally com­pro­mised chil­dren with an IQ of 70 or less will be dou­bled. Not too good for the fu­ture of New Zealand.

A new fact that has emerged re­cently is the im­pact of flu­o­ride on the thy­roid gland. A study pub­lished in the jour­nal Na­ture showed thy­roid com­pli­ca­tions in preg­nant women. New Zealand has a very high rate of hypo-thy­roidism.

Flu­o­ri­da­tion is a reck­less med­i­cal process, as­serted Pro­fes­sor Con­nett. Flu­o­ride works top­i­cally on teeth, so why drink it? Most coun­tries don’t flu­o­ri­date now, in­clud­ing 97 per cent of Europe. It’s time for New Zealand to move be­yond flu­o­ri­da­tion.

Scot­land has done that, with a Childsmile pro­gramme of­fer­ing young chil­dren free tooth brushes and tooth­paste, while par­ents are given di­etary ad­vice. In 20 years, Scot­land’s rate of den­tal fill­ings for chil­dren aged five has been cut by more than half, while here the rate of den­tal fill­ings for five-year-old chil­dren has in­creased.

TV1 also showed one North­land school that’s made a good start by sup­ply­ing chil­dren with tooth­brushes and su­per­vis­ing chil­dren brush­ing their teeth af­ter lunch. Well done!

Scot­land’s scheme has saved al­most five-mil­lion pounds a year in treat­ment costs, as fewer ex­trac­tions, fill­ings and gen­eral anaes­thet­ics were needed. Why does New Zealand per­sist with out­dated flu­o­ri­da­tion? It’s not flu­o­ride that’s needed to cut tooth de­cay, it’s more brush­ing of teeth, more fruit and veg­eta­bles and less sugar.

Flu­o­ride-Free NZ has pro­duced an ex­cel­lent mag­a­zine with plenty of wellil­lus­trated facts. One il­lus­tra­tion showed two bot­tles of flu­o­ri­dated wa­ter. The first was ‘phar­macy grade,’ and car­ried a warn­ing that preg­nant women and chil­dren un­der three should not drink it. The other bot­tle con­tained wa­ter with up to 1ppm of flu­o­ride. (That is, a bot­tle of tap wa­ter from a flu­o­ri­dated area of New Zealand.)

Un­like the pure sodium flu­o­ride in the re­stricted phar­macy-grade wa­ter, the flu­o­ride in the sec­ond bot­tle was an in­dus­trial by-prod­uct — hy­dro-flu­o­rosili­cic acid. Yet there was no warn­ing about in­di­vid­ual dosage at all on the sec­ond bot­tle.

Pro­fes­sor Con­nett said gov­ern­ments of coun­tries still us­ing flu­o­ri­da­tion in spite of all the in­for­ma­tion now avail­able have lost their in­tegrity. I hope and pray New Zealand DHBs find their in­tegrity on this mat­ter very soon.

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