Top dentist cautioned over fluoride facts

By Susan Strongman

Anti-flouride campaigners have complained about a leading dentist's comments on television. Photo / file
Anti-flouride campaigners have complained about a leading dentist's comments on television. Photo / file

A group claiming a dentist misled the public and disrespected other health professionals over fluoridation has publicly released a letter from the Dental Council saying the dentist has been "cautioned".

Anti-fluoride lobby group Fluoride Free NZ published the letter from the council's legal adviser, which said Dr Rob Beaglehole was cautioned over comments made on TV show Paul Henry earlier this year.

On the show, which aired in April, Beaglehole - who is a spokesman for the New Zealand Dental Association and chief dental officer at the Nelson District Health Board - said all health authorities around the world urgently recommended water fluoridation.

"There's not one reputable health organisation anywhere on the globe that will say water fluoridation causes problems that some of the anti-fluoridationists are highlighting," Beaglehole said on the show.

Fluoride Free NZ complained to the council, and Beaglehole responded that it was imprecise to use the word "all" when referring to health authorities around the world.

The Dental Council "accepted that the comments were made in good faith in a challenging interview situation and that there was no deliberate attempt to mislead the public".

In the letter from the council, addressed to Hawke's Bay naturopath and anti-fluoride campaigner Kevin Tinker, the council said Beaglehole "rigorously rejected" the suggestion he lied or violated professional standards.

The council recommended Beaglehole seek media training and said he was cautioned about expressing his views in public on the subject of community water fluoridation.

The campaigners have called the council's response "woefully inadequate".

Anti-fluoride spokeswoman Mary Byrne said Beaglehole's comments were misleading because there was "virtually no water fluoridation in the whole of Europe".

In 2014, a panel commissioned by the Prime Minister's Chief Science Adviser Sir Peter Gluckman and the Royal Society of New Zealand president Sir David Skegg found there were "no adverse effects" of fluoridation of public water supplies.

A Dental Council spokeswoman said the letter was not publicly released, as stated by Fluoride Free New Zealand.

Beaglehole is overseas and unavailable to comment.

The NZ Dental Association said: "Dr Beaglehole is a leading advocate and spokesperson for sensible, safe, proven and effective actions leading to the improvement of dental health of our communities; community water fluoridation and reduction of sugar consumption being very high on his and the Association's list of effective measures to reduce tooth decay.

"Dr Beaglehole is currently in Geneva for three months working with the World Health Organisation on issues regarding the reduction of sugar consumption."

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter


© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf03 at 26 Oct 2016 20:06:43 Processing Time: 727ms