Fluoride Facts

Community Water Fluoridation is an effective, safe and affordable way to prevent and reduce tooth decay for everyone.

Hear from trusted professionals

Title: Dr Riana Clarke, National Clinical Director of Oral Health, Ministry of Health, on fluoridation

Dr Riana Clarke: Although oral health has really improved for New Zealanders over the last number of decades, dental decay is still the most common chronic disease for New Zealanders.

Despite widespread use of fluoride toothpaste and having publicly provided dental services, we're still seeing high levels of dental decay in our populations.

By the time children are starting school, 1 in 7 of them have already suffered from severe decay.

Title: Dental decay is a serious problem

Dr Riana Clarke: Early childhood decay can cause extreme pain and the children who are suffering from early childhood decay, they can lose sleep, they may have to take time off school, some of them may even end up having to go to hospital and have a general anaesthetic to have dental treatment.

The results from the New Zealand Health Survey for the period 2014 to 2015 reported that an alarming number of children - 29,000 had one or more teeth removed in that time.

Title: It's Effective

Dr Riana Clarke: Community water fluoridation helps to protect our teeth over and above those other things we might do to protect our teeth.

For example, we may brush our teeth with fluoride toothpaste, we might reduce the sugar levels in our diet, and we may drink lots of water - but community water fluoridation will help strengthen our teeth over and above this.

There is a huge body of evidence, both internationally and here in New Zealand, that shows that water fluoridation significantly reduces decay levels for both adults and children.

In the most recent New Zealand Oral Health survey in 2009, the figures showed that for those living in a community with water fluoridation that children and adolescents experienced 40 percent less decay than those who lived in a non-fluoridated area.

Water fluoridation plays a role in protecting the teeth of the whole community and this has been recommended by the World Health Organization, our own Minister of Health here in New Zealand, and by many respected health organisations throughout the world.

Title: It's safe

Dr Riana Clarke: Based on international and New Zealand evidence, we can say that at the levels we add fluoride to the water here in New Zealand, there is absolutely no health risk.

Community Water Fluoridation. Effective. Safe. Affordable.


View this video of Dr Riana Clarke, National Clinical Director of Oral Health talking about the value of community water fluoridation. You can watch more fluoridation expert videos on YouTube.

Chief Science Advisor updates evidence on water fluoridation

The Office of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor has examined new evidence on water fluoridation. This confirms the findings of the Royal Society Te Apārangi report in 2014. You can read about this on the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor website.

Report on the benefits and cost of water fluoridation

The Ministry of Health commissioned the Sapere Research Group to provide an up-to-date evaluation of the benefits and costs of water fluoridation, in the New Zealand setting.

Read the full report Review of the Benefits and Costs of Water Fluoridation in New Zealand 2015.

Good Practice Guide for Fluoridation of Drinking Water Supplies

Volume one and volume two of updated good practice guidelines for water supply fluoridation were released by Water New Zealand in May 2023. They provide technical guidelines for treatment plant designers, operators and asset managers.

Report on health effects of water fluoridation

In August 2014, the Royal Society of New Zealand and the Office of the Prime Minister's Chief Science Advisor produced a report which reviews the scientific evidence for and against the efficacy and safety of community water fluoridation. You can read the report on the Royal Society's website.

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