Fluoride

Fluoride in the water

Fluoride is a common and naturally occurring mineral - it is found in air, soil, plants, water and lots of foods.

  • It protects teeth
  • It's safe
  • It's cost effective
  • It's for our children, families and whanau


Vote for fluoride


Hamilton residents have been benefitting from drinking fluoridated water for generations - until July 2013. The only health effect has been less tooth decay.

Water fluoridation is supported by international, national and local health organisations. There is extensive scientific study to support its safety.

Fluoride in drinking water at the correct monitored levels can do a lot of good without doing any harm. It really is that simple.

In New Zealand, local territorial authorities can make decisions about whether water supplies in their districts are fluoridated or not.

Recently Hamilton City Council voted to remove fluoride from the city's water supply. Read more in the media

Waikato District Health Board is the principal adviser to territorial authorities within its boundaries on issues of public health and we have a statutory responsibility to do so.

We are keen for the public to be informed and to have the facts. To hear the facts from NZ Health professionals, click here (external link) .

Answering common questions

What is fluoride?

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral - it is found in air, soil, plants, water and lots of foods.

How does fluoride help our teeth?

It helps protect our teeth by making them stronger and reducing tooth decay.

Why do we need to add it to our drinking water?

Because New Zealand water supplies have very low levels of natural fluoride. In many local bodies of water there is not enough fluoride to do the job of protecting teeth.
Water fluoridation (adding fluoride to water supplies) tops up the fluoride to the best levels that provide protection against tooth decay.

Is it safe?

Yes. Scientific studies over 60 years have found water fluoridation to be very safe.
It is supported by many international and local organisations including World Health Organisation, World Dental Federation, New Zealand Ministry of Health, NZ Maori Dental Association (Te Ao Marama), NZ Cancer Society, Plunket and many more.

Why do we need it, when toothpaste already has fluoride and we clean our teeth twice a day?

The 2009 New Zealand Oral Health Survey found that only 65 per cent of New Zealand adults and 15 per cent of preschoolers brush their teeth twice a day with regular strength fluoride toothpaste.
So putting fluoride in water supply makes sure everyone is covered and given some protection.
Fluoride in water does not replace using toothpaste and good teeth cleaning habits. They work together to provide the best protection for teeth.
The levels of fluoride if you use toothpaste and fluoride in water are still well within the recommended fluoride limits.

Does it work?

Yes, survey results also showed that children and adults living in fluoridated areas have much less tooth decay over their lifetimes than those in un-fluoridated areas.
Dentists and dental nurses will tell you the same thing.
Your teeth will be well protected, pain from dental decay will be rare, and costs of dental care much more affordable.

Read this endorsement from Thames dentist David Fornusek who has practiced in the area for more than 40 years [PDF, 50 KB]

Who benefits?

Water fluoridation benefits everyone who has their own teeth, from children to older people, especially those most at risk of tooth decay.
Putting it in the public water supply means everyone gets the benefit, not just those who can afford it.
Children and those most at risk of tooth decay will benefit most.
People who struggle to afford or practice regular dental care (regular dental check ups, using quality toothpaste, cleaning teeth twice a day) will also benefit by having fluoride protection in their drinking water.

Graph below: Number of filled teeth per child aged 5 years in fluoridated Hamilton and unfluoridated Morrinsville, September 2003 – Dec 2004 Waikato DHB SDS

Graph

Why do so many health professionals support community water fluoridation?

Click to hear it from health professionals (external link)

What about the right to choose?

Some people object to fluoride in water and use arguments that have been well and truly rebutted by sound scientific study and commonsense.
However if these people wish to avoid the benefits of water fluoridation, then they can choose to buy osmosis filters or steam distillers which filter out fluoride from tap water (more details here (external link) ) Or perhaps they could purchase types of bottled water that do not contain fluoride.
Their beliefs should not prevent the rest of the community benefiting from this safe, preventative option for healthier teeth.

Who has water fluoridation currently?

Over 300 million people in 39 countries have access to fluoridated drinking water.
These include Australia, Canada, Ireland, Israel, Singapore, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Currently in New Zealand 68 per cent of the population on reticulated water have the benefits of fluoridation.
That equates to 56 per cent of the total population (i.e. those on reticulated water, plus those on tank/bore/rainwater)

Waikato DHB’s position on water fluoridation

The Ministry of Health and the Waikato District Health Board strongly support water fluoridation as a safe, effective and affordable way to prevent and reduce tooth decay across the whole population.

Most tooth decay is preventable, and water fluoridation is a simple way to help prevent it.

Answering the myths

Does water fluoridation cause illnesses or disease like bone fractures and cancer?

No. More than 60 years of scientific evidence shows water fluoridation is safe.

Is fluoridated water toxic?

An adult would have to drink several thousand glasses of water at one sitting to get a lethal dose of fluoride.
That much water would kill you long before fluoride became a problem!

Is water fluoridation "mass medication"?

Fluoride is not a medicine or a drug. It occurs naturally in water supplies.
All we are doing is topping it up to optimal, safe levels where it provides more benefits for teeth protection.

Is the fluoride added to water an industrial waste product?

No. The fluoride compounds added to water are manufactured to exacting quality and purity standards.
Once added to water, the new fluoride is no different to the fluoride found naturally.


Support water fluoridation in your community!

The Ministry of Health and the Waikato District Health Board strongly support water fluoridation as a safe, effective and affordable way to prevent and reduce tooth decay across the whole population.
Most tooth decay is preventable, and water fluoridation is a simple way to help prevent it.
The Waikato Health Trust is a vehicle for donating funds for the promotion of the inclusion of fluoride in the water supplies of Waikato DHB communities and education for those communities that do not have fluoride in their water supplies.

Useful information

Presentations at the March 2014 Hamilton City Council meeting

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