Community water fluoridation: attitudes and opinions from the New Zealand Oral Health Survey

Aust N Z J Public Health. 2016 Apr;40(2):186-92. doi: 10.1111/1753-6405.12408. Epub 2015 Aug 10.


Objective: To report the responses of adult participants in the 2009 New Zealand Oral Health Survey (NZOHS) to questions about community water fluoridation (CWF).

Methods: The study used quantitative data from the NZOHS. All adult participants aged 18 years and over in the nationally representative NZOHS sample were included in the study (n=3475). Univariate analysis and multinominal logistic regression models were used to examine the associations between variables.

Results: Overall, 57.7% of respondents thought that there were dental benefits to adding fluoride to drinking water and 31.7% responded that they did not know. More than 45% of respondents did not know whether there were health risks from adding fluoride to drinking water. Overall, 42.0% of respondents were strongly or somewhat in favour of CWF.

Conclusion and implications: People in the Māori, Pacific and Asian ethnic groups, from the two most deprived quintiles, with no education after high school and who brushed their teeth less than twice a day expressed significantly greater uncertainty about CWF than other population groups. This study suggests further research is required to gain a greater understanding of health literacy about CWF and the cultural appropriateness of CWF in NZ.

Keywords: New Zealand; attitudes; community water fluoridation; public opinion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attitude
  • Dental Caries / prevention & control
  • Dental Health Surveys
  • Female
  • Fluoridation*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • New Zealand
  • Public Opinion*
  • Public Policy
  • Water Supply*