Taranaki residents buy up fluoride tabs

16:00, Oct 20 2011

A New Plymouth pharmacy is reporting a rush on fluoride tablets after the district council voted to remove the chemical from the town's water supply.

Lander and Black pharmacy owner Christina Black said a number of people had approached her staff about fluoride tablets after learning their water would be without it.

''We didn't actually stock them so we've had to order them in,'' she said.
A bottle of 100 fluoride tablets retails at roughly $10 and dosage varies depending on age, but for anyone over the age of nine, two tablets daily are recommended.

However, New Zealand's top dentist says fluoride tablets are not the answer for New Plymouth residents seeking a fluoride alternative.

The recommended method of fluoride delivery in areas without fluoridated water is a fluoridated toothpaste, Ministry of Health chief dental officer Robyn Haisman-Welsh told the Taranaki Daily News.

She said fluoride tablets are not recommended as a population health measure in New Zealand because of the risk of fluorosis in children.


Dental fluorosis occurs when young children are exposed to excessive amounts of fluoride when their teeth are developing.

''Clinically, dental fluorosis is characterised by opaque white areas in the enamel and in its mild form may only be recognisable to a dental health professional,'' Dr Haisman-Welsh said.

Fluoride tablets can be recommended by a doctor for people over the age of three who are at high risk of tooth decay.

''They are not recommended for children under the age of three or for pregnant women, and there are few studies showing effectiveness of fluoride tablets in adults.''

Dr Haisman-Welsh said fluoride toothpaste is an effective method of reducing dental decay.

''It provides an additional benefit above that of fluoridated water and in non-fluoridated areas it is the prime method of preventing decay.''

Toothpaste in New Zealand on average contains 1000ppm of fluoride based on many years of research on the effectiveness of different strengths.

''Toothpaste at the concentration of 1000ppm fluoride contains 1000 times more fluoride than drinking water optimally fluoridated at 1.0ppm.

''There are no linked health effects with fluoridated toothpaste except dental fluorosis,'' she said.
New Plymouth residents searching for the right toothpaste should be careful not to pick up one that is non-fluoridated.
Ms Black said non-fluoridated toothpaste is available most commonly at pharmacies and health stores and usually cost a couple of dollars more than a fluoridated toothpaste.

Taranaki Daily News