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"Fluoridation Significantly Reduces Tooth Decay"

Why You Should Not Believe the Fluoridation Sales Pitch

Fluoridation studies, reviews, and surveys always focus on tooth decay. Fluoridation promoters are obsessed with the number of decayed teeth. What they never mention is the number of healthy teeth or total number of teeth children have. A major Australian survey did, however, and it allows us to deconstruct the ad nauseam claim that fluoridated water significantly reduces tooth decay.

Armfield JM, Slade GD, Spencer AJ. Water fluoridation and children's dental health.
The Child Dental Health Survey, Australia 2002.

Figure 15 shows the average number of children's permanent teeth that are (or were previously) decayed, measured by "decayed, missing, and filled teeth" (DMFT) by age and by fluoride concentration in water – less than 0.3 vs. more than 0.7 ppm (mg/liter).

Fluoridated 12-year-olds averaged about 0.85, and unfluoridated kids averaged about 1.3 decayed teeth. This absolute difference of about half-of-a-tooth (0.45) equates to a relative difference of over 50% more decay in unfluoridated kids (0.45 ÷ 0.85).

That relative differences are misleading is evident when the same half-of-a-tooth difference equates to 35% less decay in fluoridated kids (0.45 ÷ 1.3).

Cropped Table 4 But what about the difference in healthy undecayed teeth? After all, the title of the survey is Water fluoridation and children's dental health – not dental decay. Here's where knowing the total number of teeth is important.

Table 4: 12-year-olds averaged 24 teeth.

That means fluoridated kids averaged about 23 and unfluoridated kids averaged about 22.5 healthy teeth.

This half-of-a-tooth difference equates to a 2.2% difference in dental health between fluoridated and unfluoridated kids (0.5 ÷ 23 or 0.5 ÷ 22.5). Less than the margin of error.

The reality is that fluoridated water has an
insignificant effect on dental health
.

This Australian survey exposes misleading US fluoridation claims:

The US government's biggest and still its best fluoridation study claimed:

Fluoridation Reduces Tooth Decay by 18%

This 1990 study, Recent trends in dental caries in U.S. children and the effect of water fluoridation, compared the number of decayed, missing, and filled tooth surfaces (DMFS) in the permanent teeth of 39,000 children aged 5-17 years. Results by ages are reported in Table 6:

Table 6   • Nonfluoridated kids averaged 3.39.
  • Fluoridated kids averaged 2.79.

A difference of 0.6 decayed surfaces

The government dentists divided 0.6 by 3.39 to claim: "Children who had always been exposed to community water fluoridation had mean DMFS scores about 18% lower than those who had never lived in fluoridated communities."

Again, 18% is a deceptive relative difference. Using same data (0.6 ÷ 2.79): "Children who had never lived in fluoridated communities had mean DMFS scores about 22% higher than those who had always been exposed to community water fluoridation."

For 5-year-olds, a difference of 7/100th of a tooth surface is 70% less tooth decay!

Like most dental studies, BAD TEETH is the focus on this study, as its title indicates: "Recent trends in dental caries..."

The total number of tooth surfaces was not stated, but a tooth has 4 or 5 surfaces. In the above Australian survey, 12-year-olds averaged 24 teeth. That's more than 100 tooth surfaces.

When focusing on GOOD TEETH, the numbers tell a different story:
  • Nonfluoridated 12-year-olds averaged 97.0 healthy tooth surfaces.
  • Fluoridated kids averaged 97.5.
A difference of 0.5 healthy tooth surfaces

This half-of-a-tooth surface equates to less than 1% difference in the oral health of fluoridated vs unfluoridated 12-year-olds.

Again, the reality is that fluoridated water has an
insignificant effect on dental health
.

Today there is no evidence of better oral health in the 8,000,000 Americans
the CDC said are served by community water systems that have
"
sufficient naturally occurring fluoride concentrations."

Another Australian Study Revels Statistical Spin

In his 2010 study, Community effectiveness of public water fluoridation in reducing children's dental disease, Jason Armfield (one of the 3 authors of the above 2002 Australian survey) reported these results:

In the permanent teeth of 8- to 15-year-old children residing in areas with negligible fluoride and those residing in optimally fluoridated areas, "the absolute magnitude of difference... was 0.25" decayed teeth (0.79 vs 1.04), "and this represented a relative difference of 31.6%."

But in his abstract – which is all that usually gets reported to the public – Armfield only stated the misleading relative difference:

"Permanent caries experience was... 31.6% higher... in low-fluoride areas compared with optimally fluoridated areas."

To get that 31.6% benefit, Armfield divided 0.25 by 0.79. This is misleading as evident when the same numbers are used (0.25 ÷ 1.04) to claim: Permanent caries experience was 24% lower in optimally fluoridated areas compared with low-fluoride areas.

Again: when focusing on healthy teeth, the absolute numbers tell the real story:

For 12-year-olds, Armfield reported (Table 2) that low fluoridated kids averaged 1.31 decayed teeth. Higher fluoridated kids averaged 0.87 teeth, an absolute difference of 0.44 teeth. Out of 24 teeth, that is is less than 2% difference in healthy teeth (0.44 ÷ 24).

Again, the reality is that fluoridated water has an
insignificant difference on dental health
.

Despite this reality, Armfield's begins his abstract:
"Water fluoridation is one of the most effective public health programs of the past century. However, efforts to extend water fluoridation into currently non-fluoridated areas are often thwarted. Despite considerable evidence regarding the effectiveness of water fluoridation..."

"The announced opinions and published papers favoring mechanical
fluoridation of public drinking water are especially rich in fallacies...
and afforded great amusement." – Mathematics professor (1980)

Innumeracy in Medicine

The use of misleading statistics to promote drugs is a widespread form of fraudulence very much exploited by Pharma. "Innumeracy is rampant in medicine," says Ira L. Goodman, MD. For example:

"In a popular Lipitor study, the 'benefit' of a statin over 4 years was reported as 28% reduction in events. This number is clinically irrelevant without the absolute numbers, which showed only a 3% difference in events."

Even in a highly educated, extremely intelligent, and motivated group such as physicians, innumeracy in medicine is common, Goodman says. "How many have the time to read past the sales pitch (i.e., the abstract)?"

Deconstruct recent example:
Stopping statins increases stroke by 42%!

Don't Be Takin' Fluoride!

The next time you're tempted to buy
the bogus fluoridation sales pitch,
just say to yourself:

Innumeracy!
(like Jerry Seinfeld says "Newman!")

Fun with Numbers