What Alan Johnson’s fluoride ‘Conversation’ won’t tell you.

Alan Johnson and the fluoridators have a problem. There are two famous fluoride reports. Both DON’T SAY fluoride is categorically good for children’s teeth – which is what Johnson & Co are saying.

I was on BBC Humberside this morning to talk fluoride. As I sat down with the presenter, Stuck in the Middle With You was playing. We greeted each other and chatted about the subject before air. Alan Johnson’s piece had said fluoride is not toxic. So I mentioned the toxicity of what they use to fluoridate (HFSA, hexafluorosilicic acid).

He hit the keyboard and searched HFSA – and got the American Heart Foundation! I suggested he add LD50 to the search. (Lethal Dose 50 is the measure for how much of a substance needs to be ingested before it would kill half the subjects. It’s usually done on guinea pigs and rats. The results differ a lot, but that’s another issue. Wiki gives 430mg / kg for rats. So if I’m 76 kilos, 430mg x76=32680, or 33 grams. Ie, an ounce might kill me, presuming I’m about as susceptible as a rat).

Alan Johnson and the fluoridators have a problem. There are two famous fluoride reports. Both DON’T SAY fluoride is categorically good for children’s teeth – which is what Johnson & Co are saying.

The York Review (CRD, 2000) looked at over 700 studies on fluoridated water supplies. In brief it said the evidence isn’t good enough to conclude that fluoridation works. That’s 17 years ago now!

The Cochrane Report (2015) looked at 20 fluoridation studies – these showed substantial benefit for children. But – they make sure to tell us 70% of those studies happened pre-1975 and deliberately note:  These results are based predominantly on old studies and may not be applicable today.

This is important because over ALL this time, dental health has IMPROVED EVERYWHERE – the world, Europe’s countries, our region, and Hull itself – REGARDLESS of whether an area is fluoridated or not! Only 10% of Britain is fluoridated – all in England. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have all rejected it.  Despite a number of countries fluoridating – most of the world doesn’t, usually having deliberately decided not to, maybe 95%.

We’re trying to be really respectful of the science here – and what these two reports say has to be acknowledged before proper debate can take place.

Sunday’s ‘debate’ led by Alan Johnson MP, isn’t a debate. It’s even advertised as a “Conversation”. There’s an important difference – none of us were invited. There are plenty of dissenting scientists around the country. Prof Stephen Peckham is one – University of Kent, and his recent research showed a link between a high incidence of hypothyroidism in a fluoridated area (West Midlands), compared to a non-fluoridated area. On dental health, you can cherry-pick data to show whichever side of the argument you want. The York Review shows us that the case FOR is NOT proven. The Cochrane Report says the good evidence is 40 years and more older and may not apply now. We agree.

(Among the dental professionals speaking, is Dr John Beal. It hasn’t been mentioned yet but he is also the Chair of the BFS, the British Fluoridation Society. He has been since 1991. )

Recent figures (graph below) used to shock and horrify us include the 43% claim for Hull’s toddler teeth having cavities. But if you look at the figures, you can first see that Hull and other authorities are much of a muchness in the poorer half of the region when it comes to dental health. You should also muse about whether it’s actually a lot more or lot less (more likely) than 43%. The error bars at the top of each bar indicate where the real number probably lies. 43% is only the middle value. So the data is not accurate enough, and may well be lower anyway.


Below (blog) you will find data for recent hospital extractions across the country. In this region, Hull does particularly well. The Hull Dental Needs document gives figures for Hull and comparable towns (p.53) for 0-19 years hospital admissions for teeth extraction. According to their own figures, 100% fluoridated Wolverhampton (pop. 250k) is over 2x as high as Hull per 100,000 of the population. And Wolverhampton has been fluoridated since the 60s.

An recent  article in the Birmingham Mail noted there were 1,464 hospital admissions for teeth extractions for children in 2015/16, in one of the three health authorities in the city. This was up from 795 in 2014/15. This in Birmingham (pop. 1m) which has been fluoridated since 1962.

There isn’t enough good evidence that fluoridation would be effective today. Dental health is improving anyway. There are other things we can do.

Finally, the one chart that makes the case. Dramatic improvements in dental health everywhere since the 70s, with fluoride making no difference.



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