The Cavities in the anti-Fluoride Movement: Further Proof Never to Take “Evidence” at Face Value

Unsurprisingly, Ms. Haines has gone silent. At this point, I think it isn’t worth my effort to research on the papers listed on the one link she provided.

However, I decided to look around the information from the group she was representing; Queenslanders for safe water, air and food inc. Pretty standard stuff really… They look to be following the information from the Fluoride Action Network, to which Merilyn had provided a link – the only link to her argument. Rather than continue the research on the papers her link provided, I instead looked further through the evidence FAN supplied, which brought me to the following graph that seems to be doing the rounds;

who_data01

As I made clear in my previous post and in my initial writings and reply to Merylin Haines, I am very sceptical of the claims being made by the anti-fluoride enthusiasts. By the sheer fact of long term exposure to fluoridated water without evidence of harm to myself or the many people I know, something seems wrong with these claims. For that reason, the above graph is amazing. By using WHO data, FAN seem to provide that fluoride has done little to reduce dental caries.

It’s strange that WHO’s own report, Petersen (2008) The World Oral Health Report 2003: continuous improvement of oral health in the 21st century – the approach of the WHO Global Oral Health Programme, DOI: 10.1046/j..2003.com122.x, tells a different story.

CDOE_122_f7

Admittedly, it isn’t showing exactly the same data, rather an amalgamation of data from developed or developing countries, regardless of fluoride exposure. Yet it is interesting that this global value sits at roughly 2.3 for DMFT while one gets the impression from FAN’s selected countries of a average somewhere between 1 and 2. Of course, their selected countries are relatively well off… but I’ll follow this line of thinking later on.

I decided it was worth the trouble of following FAN’s reference, to explore the data further.

Seeing as this is only for a post and the biggest difference was noted in Iceland, I decided only look at data from Europe (it was a lot of work even getting the data in a format that could be analysed).

When you look at the European countries that I was able to find definitely do not fluoridate drinking water, you get an impressive graph;

DMFT for 12-year-olds from European countries that do not fluoridate drinking water

DMFT for 12-year-olds from European countries that do not fluoridate drinking water

Feel free to click the above graph for a closer look. At first glance, it looks pretty conclusive that FAN is right… But look closely at Czech Republic data. In fact, here’s the same graph with Czech Republic’s and Iceland’s trend lines;

DMFT for 12-year-olds from European countries that do not fluoridate water supply

DMFT for 12-year-olds from European countries that do not fluoridate water supply

I wonder why they chose to highlight Iceland? Take away the earliest two values – values that are +1 more than any other value and arguably getting close to being considered an outlier (potentially poor dental hygiene practices in the early 1980’s in Iceland) – and the slope of the trend shifts to match the general trend of fairly affluent European countries. The Czech Republic is higher over all on the graph than the rest of the noted countries.

It’s worth noting that the per capita GDP of Iceland compared to the Czech Republic is about twice as much on any normalised scale. Seeing as fluoridated drinking water is not playing a role here, perhaps per capita wealth does…? I would suspect access to dental services, dental education and quality of dental products would change with general affluence.

On the other hand, when I graph all the countries that my quick search could not identify whether or not they fluoridate drinking water (most of Western European countries apparently don’t, so say at least FAN), I end up with the following graph;

DMFT for 12-year-olds from European countries that I am not sure if they fluoridate water supply or not

DMFT for 12-year-olds from European countries that I am not sure if they fluoridate water supply or not

It doesn’t say much, does it? Here’s the average of that graph;

Average DMFT for 12-year-olds from European countries that I am not sure whether they fluoridate water supply or not

Average DMFT for 12-year-olds from European countries that I am not sure whether they fluoridate water supply or not

Not a lot more is explained here either. As stated above, it is likely many geo-political-economic factors also come into play. The picture is far from the “obvious” (and I can only conclude, cherry-picked) one FAN’s graph would lead the read to assume.

On the other hand, looking at just data from Ireland, where data is available from both fluoridated and non-fluoridated drinking water we get the following;

DMFT for 12-year-olds in Ireland both where fluoridated drinking water is used or excluded

DMFT for 12-year-olds in Ireland both where fluoridated drinking water is used or excluded

At each step, fluoridation amounts to a -1 in DMFT within the same country.

Merilyn wrote; “…if there is any doubt, keep fluoride out.”

I would reply, “if there is any doubt, check it out.”

It is far easier to take things at face value, but it is a dangerous thing to do so. If someone has an agenda, they needn’t lie to misinform. I try to ensure that I always reference when I’m making a statement of any validity and make it clear when I’m expressing my opinion.

It doesn’t matter what the topic is, the plot remains the same; truthers know the truth and anyone else whom questions it is dogmatic, manipulated by the governing body on the subject (expertise of highly trained scientists is perhaps the most loathed) and a mindless puppet of hidden enemies. Contrary evidence must be a lie.

Before I took on blogging, I was unaware of this conspiracy culture.

All I can suggest is be as transparent as you can and rely on the body of evidence. It will not change the true believers, but it will stop their infection from warping the minds of others.

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2 responses to “The Cavities in the anti-Fluoride Movement: Further Proof Never to Take “Evidence” at Face Value

  1. Thank you for this excellent posting. You are right on target. I come from a family of medical professionals: father a physician, mother a school RN, sister a dentist, & I am a family nurse practitioner. I am tired of trying to defend our profession to people trying to push their agenda with no solid basis.

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