Such a bold and confident statement brings to mind the following quotation from the Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 185, page 508, November 1963 in which it states the following:
"In an age of conformism and "team-work'. where compromise and harmony are offered as the watchwords of human activity, being critical may be considered antisocial. But science without criticality is unthinkable, for the only route to scientific objectivity is to question, not to 'accept'."
This statement therefore led me to question such an statement by the Ministers office to see if is was indeed based on scientific fact or is really just another biased opinion that is unsubstantiated by medical facts to continue to support the policy of water fluoridation in Ireland.
My first port of call was the WHO database on oral healthcare and to examine the evidence for Europe over the past forty years. A few countries in the EU did once fluoridate drinking water supplies but all have since discontinued apart from Ireland and a few very small regions of the UK where less than 10% of water supplies remain fluoridated today. The evidence from detailed epidemiological studies on oral dental health is compelling and cannot be ignored in the debate on water fluoridation. Areas of the EU that once supported water fluoridation include the Netherlands (ceased in 1973), Finland (ceased in 1992), the Czech Republic (ceased in 1993), Switzerland (Basel was the last city to end fluoridation in 2003) and the former East Germany (discontinued in 1990).
If the statement by the Minister for Health is to be believed than clearly the cessation of water fluoridation in these countries must surely have lead to a profound impact on health, social and financial costs in these countries providing evidence to support the Ministers Departments clear findings that similar calamity would befall Ireland if we were to follow the same path.
Forty years ago there were only 3 countries in the EU who had better dental health compared to Ireland. Many countries including Italy, Sweden, Denmark, Finland as well as Spain, France, Austria and Portugal all had significantly worse dental health compared to Ireland up to 1990. One of the main environmental or dietary differences between our population and the aforementioned countries would be that Irish children would have had a higher exposure to dairy products and consequently higher calcium levels in their diets which would support better and stronger teeth. In addition to which our drinking water was fluoridated. Three countries outperformed Ireland in dental health up to the 1990's namely the Netherlands, Cyprus and Switzerland. Dietary changes and improved nutritional status of the population from individuals eating healthier diets brought about by improved access to foodstuffs played a very significant part in improved dental health as well as improved oral hygiene in general with children taught how to brush their teeth, one may also consider that the increased availability of fluoride based toothpaste which became widespread in the early 1980's onwards also played a part. So lets fast forward to the last decade ending in 2009.
By 2009 the level of dental health in Ireland had only marginally improved despite the HSE and the Irish Expert Body claiming that fluoridation of drinking water is the most effective method of treating and preventing dental caries, Ireland being the only EU country with a policy of water fluoridation had by 2009 the worse oral dental health statistics for the EU. Remarkably in that same period every other EU country, including those that discontinued water fluoridation, vastly outperformed Ireland in improvements in dental health without the need for taxing its citizens to pay for water fluoridation. It just wasn't necessary. It clearly didn't work, for if it did then why would Ireland now lag behind every other country in the EU when it comes to decayed, missing or filled teeth (DMFT) for children.
How could for instance, Italy go from an average of 6.9 DMFT in children in 1990 to 1.1 DMFT in 2009, or Finland from 6.9 DMFT in 1990 to 1.2 DMFT in 2009 without the need for fluoridation of drinking water supplies, while the improvement for Ireland with mandatory water fluoridation, in addition to topical fluoride from toothpaste, went from 2.7 DMFT to 1.5 DMFT for the same period.
Clearly the evidence from across Europe cannot be dismissed any longer by fluoride proponents. The evidence makes a mockery of their often misleading and inaccurate statements. Furthermore, given that recent EU research has also identified that Ireland has the highest level of dental fluorosis in the EU, it is obvious that water fluoridation is not an effective or safe public health policy.
Dental fluorosis is where teeth become damaged from overexposure to fluoride and according the the NHS York Review of fluoridation (2000) individuals living in fluoridated communities will have significantly higher levels of dental fluorosis and for a significant proportion of these individuals it will be more than just 'cosmetic damage', it will physically damage their teeth, making them more prone to decay, filling or removal.
It would appear therefore that the lack of improvement in oral dental health in Ireland may have more to do with overexposure to fluoride from its population consuming fluoridated water than we are lead to believe. Figure 1, below provides an illustration of the official data from the WHO. Facts do not lie.
And now to a more thorough examination of countries that discontinued fluoridation of water as a public health policy. How exactly did this pan out? From what we are lead to believe by the Department of Health and Children in Ireland, it would have had a catastrophic social, financial and health impact on their communities. So lets look more closely at the geographic region formerly known as Eastern Germany or the German Democratic Republic who discontinued water fluoridation upon unification in 1990.
Before we start it is interesting to know that the Water Fluoridation is outlawed in Germany for reasons to do with mandatory medication of its population against their consent, a position also adopted by many other European Countries unlike Ireland who really don't seem to care if their population do not consent to their drinking water supply being medicated.
I had an interesting discussion with a theologian on this today and he suggested that for some peculiar reason 'everything comes back to die in Ireland', meaning that we always appear to be the last country to continue to support failed policies regardless of the evidence to the contrary. Anyway back to the former German Democratic Republic, the facts clearly show that after unification and cessation of water fluoridation it did not create chaos in the society, it did not lead to social disintegration, economic hardship or the collapse of the health system from people losing their teeth! What actually occurred is that after cessation of water fluoridation the condition of children's teeth improved. See figure 2 below for official data.
Now that wasn't supposed to happen was it? certainly not according to the 'Experts' appointed to the 'Expert Body' on Fluorides in Ireland. But then we are told we must not question their authority regardless of the facts which clearly show otherwise.
There are times when questioning authority is not to say you support a conspiracy, but there are also times when all of the evidence clearly points to the fact that the public continue to be mislead on the supposed benefits of water fluoridation while also ignoring the scientific facts that independent peer reviewed published studies have shown that a percentage of people may be intolerant to fluoride and will suffer ill-health as a consequence.
In addition to which many people who suffer from an existing disease will be extremely sensitive to fluoride, especially those that have diabetes, gastrointestinal, skin or thyroid disorders.
One would think that in countries such as Ireland that continue to expose its population to the potential harmful effects of fluoride that the health authorities, in the almost five decades since it was implimented in Ireland, would have at least ensured that relevant studies would have been undertaken to clearly demonstrate that no risk occurs.
A study was interestingly undertaken in Finland in a city before and after they discontinued fluoridation in 1992 and what that published study (Lamberg et al. Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology 1997: 25: 291-5) found was that medical ailments reduced by 13% within three months in the community post fluoridation.
Yet are we surprised to learn that not one study has been undertaken by our respected Public Health Authorities in this country or to my knowledge in any other fluoridated country since.
Obviously if they don't do the research they can continue to say as the Department of Health and Children repeatably claim "the balance of scientific evidence confirms that water fluoridation does not cause any ill effects and continues to be safe and effective in protecting oral health of all age groups."
If you believe that than you really have been fooled.