Bradfield Resident

Information. Issues. Insight. Investigation.

Archive for the ‘Fluoride’ Category

Sun 25 Oct 09 | To: Health On the Net | Fwd: Australian Dental Association (ada.org.au) HONcode compliance

Posted by bradfieldresident on 25 October 2009

From: Bradfield Resident
Date: Sunday 25 October 2009 23:31 (+11)
To: honcodecomplaint@healthonnet.org

Health On the Net Foundation,

please refer to the forwarded message below, previously addressed to honcode-en@healthonnet.org on 11 September 2009, which was not answered.

Bradfield Resident
Sydney, Australia

Quoted text:
Fri 11 Sep 09 | To: Health On the Net Foundation | Australian Dental Association (ada.org.au) HONcode compliance
Wed 09 Sep 09 | From: Health On the Net | In response to your complaint regarding the site : http://www.ada.org

Posted in Australian Dental Association, Fluoride, Health On the Net Foundation, Mail Sent, Water Fluoridation | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Fri 11 Sep 09 | To: The Australian Dental Association | HONcode compliance

Posted by bradfieldresident on 11 September 2009

[Note: it appears that the email generated by the contact form bounced, so it is quite possible that no ADA representative received and read it.]

From: Bradfield Resident <bradfieldresident@gmail.com>
Date: Friday 11 September 2009 01:31 (+10) (approx)
To: The Australian Dental Association – Complaints – National (ADA Inc.)
Via: http://www.ada.org.au/contactus/ContactUs.aspx

Australian Dental Association,

I have contacted the Health On the Net Foundation about apparent HONcode compliance violations on the ada.org.au website.

You can view my correspondence with the Health On the Net Foundation at https://bradfieldresident.wordpress.com

More specifically under
https://bradfieldresident.wordpress.com/category/health/organisations/health-on-the-net-foundation-organisations-health/

You are invited to comment by email addressed to bradfieldresident@gmail.com

Bradfield Resident
Friday 11 September 2009

Posted in Australian Dental Association, Fluoride, Health On the Net Foundation, Mail Sent, Water Fluoridation | Leave a Comment »

Fri 11 Sep 09 | To: Health On the Net Foundation | Australian Dental Association (ada.org.au) HONcode compliance

Posted by bradfieldresident on 11 September 2009

[Note: the “AMA” reference toward the end was a typo accidentally propagated from the previous email and should, of course, be “ADA”.]

From: Bradfield Resident <bradfieldresident@gmail.com>
Date: Friday 11 September 2009 00:39 (+10)
Subject: Australian Dental Association (ada.org.au) HONcode compliance
To: honcode-en@healthonnet.org

Health On the Net Foundation,

it is unclear as to whether your email is in response to my original email complaint on 25 August (https://bradfieldresident.wordpress.com/2009/08/25/to-health-on-the-net-foundation-honcode-principles-and-the-australian-dental-association/), to my online form submission on 28 August, or both. I write here assuming the email complaint (with considerably more information than the online form submission) was considered.

I find some of the explanations offered with regards to the Australian Dental Association website’s compliance with the published HONcode guidelines to be quite weak, especially considering the ostensible aim of the HONcode to improve the quality of medical information published online.

Principle 1 – Authority

The “ADA Inc. Oral Health Education Committee” is not identified. It is not a person – one might also suppose its members change over time – and as such I do not understand how it can be considered to be the “author”. As the committee is not identified, it follows that its (members’) qualifications have also not been identified. Additionally, the site does not indicate what the “Consumer Information” section is, which this committee allegedly authored. The statement that “[t]he views and opinions expressed on this site are not necessarily those of the ADA Inc., the ADA State Branches or their affiliates” on the disclaimer page (http://www.ada.org.au/disclaimer.aspx) further clouds the situation.

Principle 2 – Purpose of the website

The ADA site makes good on the requirement to declare that the site is not to replace the advice of a health professional. It goes on to disclaim any impression of reliability, accuracy, completeness or usefulness. Although not being able to stand behind one’s documentation (website) erodes the reader’s confidence, it is in keeping with the HONcode guidelines, and I haven’t complained about that aspect of the requirements.

I have noticed that the website has been updated/repaired since my complaint; the About page (http://www.ada.org.au/about/default.aspx) links to the Overview (http://www.ada.org.au/about/overview.aspx) and Functions (http://www.ada.org.au/about/functions.aspx) pages are now functional.

However, there is no “description of the website’s mission, purpose and intended audience”:

  • “All information is intended for your general knowledge only” is not a description of the website’s purpose
  • “its aim the encouragement of the health of the public and the promotion of the art and science of dentistry” is the aim (purpose/mission?) of the ADA (“also necessary”); there is no separate description for the website itself
  • You write, “[t]his site contains three portals for General public, Dental Professionals, and Members. / Therefore it is understood that this site is for the General public and health professionals.” Whatever you happen to mean by there being three “portals”, and whether or not one might infer that this site is for (effectively) everyone, there is no actual description of the intended audience.

Personally, I think these are minor issues and very easily addressed (eg “the purpose of the ADA and of this website is to…”, “the intended audience of this site is…”). However it does concern me that your evaluation drops the bar so low on “necessary” requirements to the point where they are not actually required – either your guidelines are enforced or they are pointless and the overall quality of the entire HONcode accreditation comes under question.

Principle 4 – Information must be documented: Referenced and dated

Sources information are not needed, becuase this site information was authored
by fully qualified dentists.

Did an authorised Health On the Net Foundation representative really write that, or am I reading a forged email? This statement is completely ludicrous. I quote again from the HONcode Guidelines documentation (http://www.hon.ch/HONcode/Guidelines/guidelines.html):

All sources of the medical content must be given. You have to clearly indicate the recognized, scientific or official sources of health information quoted in your articles. If you used another website, a book, an article, a database or any other support, it has to be specified. You have to provide a precise link to the source, whenever it is possible and the references should be in relation with the content referred.

To say now that sources of information are not needed is a complete farce. I would also reiterate that the authors of the information are not identified, but that is hardly the point here. Is it truly the Health On the Net Foundation’s intention for principle 4 to be something like “All sources of the medical content must be given unless the author is a dentist”? If so, please amend the HONcode guidelines documentation accordingly.

You write:

The complaint regarding the principle 4 – Date is justified.
Therfore we are taking care of your complaint. A member of the HONcode team has
contacted this site about this matter.

So, we agree on one point at least. Perhaps an investigation of your procedures is in order to determine how the lack of dates was missed in previous reviews.

Principle 5 – Justification of claims

You write:

we were not able to find any treatment information on the following link:
http://www.ada.org.au/oralhealth/FLN/flfaqs.aspx

This page contains some information about Fluoride, but not the treatments.

Again I have to ask, did an authorised Health On the Net Foundation representative write that, or am I reading a forged email? The entire page is about fluoride treatments in all shapes and sizes. The first occurrence of the word “treatment” on the page is in the statement: “Drinking fluoridated water several times a day is the ideal way to give your teeth a quick fluoride treatment.”

Some unjustified claims from that page:

  • Large numbers of studies over the last fifty years have shown conclusively that fluoride strengthens teeth against decay without causing harmful effects.
  • Fluoride acts in a number of ways to strengthen teeth and make them more resistant to tooth decay.
  • Topical fluoride can not only stop the development of tooth decay, but also make the enamel more resistant to future acid attacks. It also helps by reducing the amount of acid produced by the bacteria in your mouth.
  • While most of the fluoride effect is topical, a systemic effect still occurs, and enamel with built-in fluoride is still more decay resistant.
  • Very high levels can even cause brown staining or pitted enamel. This is very uncommon, and usually results from children swallowing too much fluoride from toothpaste or fluoride tablets rather than from drinking fluoridated water.
  • While these [other fluoride treatment methods] are still beneficial, the safest and most cost effective method, with the greatest reduction in tooth decay is seen when teeth are exposed to frequent, low concentrations of fluoride as in water fluoridation.
  • Because of the mainly topical effect of fluoride, people of all ages and backgrounds will benefit [from water fluoridation].
  • When fluoride is in the mouth, the teeth become much more resistant to decay.
  • Fluoridated water is the safest, most effective, and least expensive way to reduce tooth decay in children and adults.
  • In speaking about Sydney’s water fluoridation, the New South Wales Chief Health Officer in 2002 reported “a significant dental health benefit, by reducing dental caries, along with the associated savings in the cost of treatment.”
  • All Australian capital cities (except Brisbane) have been fluoridated for decades and have not seen an increase in bone fractures or other ill effects.

Your brief comment here refers to just this page, which I suppose is the one I listed in the online complaint form. I repeat below further comments from my initial email complaint which have not been addressed by your email.

The AMA site makes numerous claims about products and treatments that, aside from on occasion appearing to be patently false or contradictory, are completely unjustified.

The site also repeatedly directs readers to, if not a specific brands of products, specific types of product, such as fluoride toothpaste, fluoride tablets, fluoride gels, fluoridated food products and additives, and even fluoridated water, without any “alternative therapy” offered for cleaning teeth and maintaining dental health.

As a simplification, the product/treatment here is fluoride and its application/consumption. There are a number of documents provided on the website, for example, on the Fluoride Resources page (http://www.ada.org.au/oralhealth/fln/flresources.aspx) that might be intended as justification, however there is little or no association made between the majority of claims made in the rest of the site and these documents.

General safety claims are also made about mercury-containing dental amalgam as a type of product.

The medical information is certainly far from balanced. Concerns about harmful effects are, if mentioned a all, mentioned only briefly and in a significantly dismissive way, giving the impression that concerns have been raised only by an uneducated public, when in fact thousands of qualified dental and medical professionals around the world have very strong concerns about the potential harmful effects, and indeed questions about the efficacy of the use of fluoride in the first place. Documents on the website make claims for efficacy of “about half” and even “60%”, which are significant exaggerations at best. Statements such as “There is universal agreement between all the major public health bodies throughout the world regarding the benefits of water fluoridation” (“Fluoride – Nature thought f it first”, prefaced by a letter from the president of the ADA, at http://www.ada.org.au/app_cmslib/media/lib/0609/m16777_v1_fluoride%20-%20nature%20thought%20of%20it%20first.pdf) are grossly misleading (it is an undeniable fact that many countries do not support nor implement water fluoridation).

Finally

It is my expectation that the HONcode seal displayed on the Australian Dental Association website (http://ada.org.au) should indicate that the site is undergoing a reexamination. This is not presently the case.

Bradfield Resident
Sydney, Australia

Friday 11 September 2009

Quoted text:
Wed 09 Sep 09 | From: Health On the Net | In response to your complaint regarding the site : http://www.ada.org


Bradfield Resident
bradfieldresident@gmail.com
https://bradfieldresident.wordpress.com

Posted in Australian Dental Association, Fluoride, Health On the Net Foundation, Mail Sent, Water Fluoridation | Tagged: | 4 Comments »

Thu 10 Sep 09 | From: Barry O’Farrell MP, NSW Member for Ku-ring-gai | Re: AHFA Fluoride Petition

Posted by bradfieldresident on 10 September 2009

[This letter is in response to an email sent for the AHFA Fluoride Petition for New South Wales residents on the Health Petitions Australia website. Postal mail dated “10 September 2009”, received some days later]

Barry O’Farrell MP
State Member for Ku-ring-gai

Letter from Barry O'Farrell MP (2009-09-10)

Letter from Barry O'Farrell MP (2009-09-10)

10 September 2009

Dear […]

Thank you for your email of 4 September regarding you request for the removal of fluoride from our drinking water.

I read your email with interest and note your comments and concerns.

There is currently no legislation before the Parliament on the matter of fluoridation of our drinking water but please be assured that I will consider your views at the appropriate time.

Yours sincerely

[signature]

Barry O’Farrell

Working for our community

Phone 9487 8588 Fax 9487 8550 Electorate office 27 Redleaf Avenue, Wahroonga NSW 2076 Email barry@barryofarrell.com Website www.barryofarrell.com

Posted in Health Petitions Australia, Mail Received, NSW Government, State MPs, Water Fluoridation | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Thu 10 Sep 09 | From: Dr Peter Hill, Acting Chief Dental Officer, NSW Health | Re: AHFA Fluoride Petition

Posted by bradfieldresident on 10 September 2009

[This letter is in response to an email sent for the AHFA Fluoride Petition for New South Wales residents on the Health Petitions Australia website. Postal mail dated “10.9.09”, postmarked “15SEP09”]

Centre for Oral Health Strategy
New South Wales

Scan of postal mail

Letter from Dr Peter Hill, NSW Health (2009-09-10)

Dear […]

Thank you for your correspondence to the Minister for Health, dated 4th September 2009 seeking the removal of fluoride from your drinking water. The minister has asked me to respond to you on his behalf.

Various Councils have approached NSW Health on the matter of fluoridation of the public water supplies under their control. Following consideration of the individual Council’s issues by the Fluoridation of Public Water Supplies Advisory Committee (FPWSAC), as is required under the Fluoridation of Public Water Supplies Act 1957, the Director-General of NSW Health gives separate approval under that Act to allow the fluoridation of each of those Council’s water supplies. That approval is then published in the NSW Government Gazette, as required under the Fluoridation of Public Water Supplies Act 1957.

Councils are in various stages of compliance with those approvals to incorporate a fluoridation dosing system into their water treatment plants which comply generally with the statutory regime provided under the Fluoridation of Public Water Supplies Act 1957.

Research into the toxicity of compounds used in fluoridating water has been carried out for the past 60 years. The overwhelming weight of the scientific evidence does not link water fluoridation at optimal levels (one part per million) to side effects such as bone fracture, cancer, and other health related problems.

NSW Health’s policy on fluoridation is that it is a safe, effective and equitable means of reducing dental decay at a population level. In 2007 the NHMRC completed a Systematic Review, which confirmed that position. Indeed it is a position held by all Australian governments at state and federal level and most local governments in NSW.

I trust this information is of assistance to you. If you require any further information please contact Shanti Sivaneswaran, Principal Advisor, Centre for Oral Health Strategy NSW on (02) 8821 4300.

Yours faithfully

[signature]

Dr Peter Hill
Acting Chief Dental Officer
10.9.09

NSW HEALTH

PO Box 533, Wentworthville NSW 2145
Telephone +61 2 8821 4300
Facsimile +61 2 8821 4302
Website: www.health.nsw.gov.au

Posted in Centre for Oral Health Strategy, Health Petitions Australia, Mail Received, NSW Health, Water Fluoridation | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Wed 09 Sep 09 | From: Health On the Net | In response to your complaint regarding the site : http://www.ada.org

Posted by bradfieldresident on 9 September 2009

From: honcode-en@healthonnet.org
Date: Wednesday 09 September 2009 20:58 (+10)
Subject: In response to your complaint regarding the site : http://www.ada.org
To: bradfieldresident@gmail.com

Dear Sir/Madam,

We would like to thank you for contacting the Health On the Net Foundation
(HON) regarding the site : http://www.ada.org

We found following principles are not justified:

Principle 1 – Authority

The information for authority can find on the following link:

http://www.ada.org.au/disclaimer.aspx

“Information presented in the “Consumer Information” section was authored by the ADA Inc. Oral Health Education Committee. This Committee meets regularly and is responsible for reviewing and updating the “Consumer Information” section. All Oral Health Education Committee members are fully qualified and board registered dentists. In addition to this process, all information posted on the ADA inc website is reviewed and approved by the ADA Inc IT Manger/webmaster who also is a fully qualified and board registered dentist.”

Principle 2 – Purpose, Mission, Audience

The information for principle 2 can find on the following link:

Purpose : http://www.ada.org.au/disclaimer.aspx

“All information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for dental or medical advice or treatment for specific dental or medical conditions. You should seek prompt professional care for any specific health issues.”

Mission : http://www.ada.org.au/about/default.aspx

”  its aim the encouragement of the health of the public and the promotion of the art and science of dentistry.”

Audience : http://www.ada.org.au/about/default.aspx

This site contains three portals for General public, Dental Professionals, and Members.
Therefore it is understood that this site is for the General public and health professionals.

Principle 4

Sources information are not needed, becuase this site information was authored
by fully qualified dentists.
For more information please see Principle 1.

Principle 5

we were not able to find any treatment information on the following link:
http://www.ada.org.au/oralhealth/FLN/flfaqs.aspx

This page contains some information about Fluoride, but not the treatments.

The complaint regarding the principle 4 – Date is justified.
Therfore we are taking care of your complaint. A member of the HONcode team has
contacted this site about this matter.

Thank you for contributing to the improvement of the quality of health
related web content. Please do not hesitate to contact us again in the
future.

Best regards,

The HONcode team.

----------------------------------------------------------------------
Code of Conduct Department          | HONcode: http://www.hon.ch/Conduct.html
Health On the Net (HON)             | HON: http://www.hon.ch/
81 Boulevard de la Cluse            | My electronic mail is
CH-1205 Geneva, Switzerland         | HONcode@healthonnet.org
Phone/Fax:(41 22)372 6273/8885      |
------------------------------------------------------------------

CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE:
This email contains confidential information. The authorized
recipient of this information is prohibited from disclosing this
information to any other party.

#mar#

Posted in Australian Dental Association, Fluoride, Health On the Net Foundation, Mail Received, Water Fluoridation | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Sat 05 Sep 09 | To: Health On the Net | Re: Confirmation of receipt of complaint

Posted by bradfieldresident on 5 September 2009

From: Bradfield Resident <bradfieldresident@gmail.com>
Date: Saturday 05 September 2009 21:48 (+10)
Subject: Re: Confirmation of receipt of complaint
To: honcodecomplaint@healthonnet.org

HONcode Team,

I am yet to receive a response with regards to my complaint about the Australian Dental Association website (http://ada.org.au) which I made over a week ago. I sent an email to honcodecomplaint@healthonnet.org on Tuesday 25 August — see a copy at https://bradfieldresident.wordpress.com/2009/08/25/to-health-on-the-net-foundation-honcode-principles-and-the-australian-dental-association/ — and subsequently used your online compliance violation form on Friday 28 August (the receipt for which is below).

The ADA website still shows an apparently valid HONcode seal, and the HONcode verification page still shows “REEXAM” status, as it did when I first looked on 25 August.

Bradfield Resident
Sydney, Australia

Saturday 5 September 2009

Quoted text:
Fri 28 Aug 09 | From: Health On the Net | Confirmation of receipt of complaint


Bradfield Resident
bradfieldresident@gmail.com
https://bradfieldresident.wordpress.com

Posted in Australian Dental Association, Fluoride, Health, Health On the Net Foundation, Mail Sent, Water Fluoridation | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Thu 03 Sep 09 | To: BOC Australia | Making water safe

Posted by bradfieldresident on 3 September 2009

From: Bradfield Resident <bradfieldresident@gmail.com>
Date: Thursday 03 September 2009 17:42 (+10)
Subject: Making water safe
To: [BOC contact address]

BOC,

in your currently airing television commercial there is a mention that you do something to help make our water safe. Could you please indicate what that is, or how you are involved in water treatement?

I expect that it involves perhaps the supply of chemicals, such as chlorine, and possibly also plant equipment, advice to governments (Federal, State and local) on treatment procedures, safety, and so on.

Does BOC have any contract(s) to supply materials for water fluoridation? If so, what can you say about the content and source of these materials?

Bradfield Resident, NSW
Thursday 3 September 2009


Bradfield Resident
bradfieldresident@gmail.com
https://bradfieldresident.wordpress.com

Posted in Mail Sent, TV, Water Fluoridation | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Fri 28 Aug 09 | From: Health On the Net | Confirmation of receipt of complaint

Posted by bradfieldresident on 28 August 2009

From: honcodecomplaint@healthonnet.org
Date: 28 August 2009 11:42 (+10)
Subject: Confirmation of receipt of complaint
To: bradfieldresident@gmail.com

Dear Sir / Madam,

The Health On the Net Foundation acknowledges the receipt of your complaint concerning the site http://www.ada.org and will treat it as soon as possible.

The handling of your complaint will be entrusted to the person in charge for the treatment of such complaints within the HON Foundation.
It is possible that you will be contacted regarding this matter for further information.

We thank you for your vigilance and congratulate you on contributing to the improvement of the quality of health and medical information on the World Wide Web.

Best Regards,
The HONcode Team

----------------------------------------------------------------------
Code of Conduct Department          | HONcode: http://www.hon.ch/Conduct.html
Health On the Net (HON)             | HON: http://www.hon.ch/
81 Boulevard de la Cluse            | My electronic mail is
CH-1205 Geneva, Switzerland         | HONcode@healthonnet.org
Phone/Fax:(41 22)372 6250/8885      |
------------------------------------------------------------------

CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE:
This email contains confidential information. The authorized
recipient of this information is prohibited from disclosing this
information to any other party.

Posted in Australian Dental Association, Fluoride, Health, Health On the Net Foundation, Mail Received, Water Fluoridation | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Tue 25 Aug 09 | To: Health On the Net Foundation | HONcode principles and the Australian Dental Association

Posted by bradfieldresident on 25 August 2009

Correction: Under the Principle 5 heading, “The AMA site” should read “The ADA website”. Correction emailed to the same HON address at 07:13 (+10).

From: Bradfield Resident <bradfieldresident@gmail.com>
To: honcodecomplaint@healthonnet.org
Date: Tuesday 25 August 2009 07:01 (+10)
Subject: HONcode principles and the Australian Dental Association

Health On the Net Foundation,

from a review the HONcode guidelines on the Health On the Net Foundation website (http://www.hon.ch/HONcode/Guidelines/guidelines.html), it appears that the Australian Dental Association’s site (http://www.ada.org.au), which currently displays a HONcode seal, does not respect the HONcode principles.

Clicking through to verify the HONcode certification (https://www.hon.ch/HONcode/Conduct.html?HONConduct282436), I find that the ADA site is presently undergoing an “annual review”.

A minor point here is that the seal image displayed on the ADA website (https://www.hon.ch/HONcode/Seal/HONConduct282436_s1.gif) – shows “HONcode Certified 09/2009”, and not a “REEXAM” seal as suggested might appear in your documentation (for example at http://www.hon.ch/HONcode/Patients/sample_certificate.html).

Seal-graphics aside, below are my reasons for thinking that the ADA site does not respect the HONcode principles.

Principle 1 – Information must be authoritative

All medical information presented on your web site must be attributed to an author and his/her training in the field must be mentioned.

This may be done on each of the pages with medical information or on an “Advisory Board” or “Editorial Board” information page.

The qualifications of the information provider (author, webmaster or editor) must be clearly stated (i.e. patient, Internet professional, medical or health professional).

If the information provider is a medical doctor, his/her specialty must be mentioned.
If the author is not a medical professional, this must be clearly stated on the web site.

The ADA site does not attribute authorship on individual pages and there does not appear to be any page (at least not obviously) designated as an “Advisory Board” or “Editorial Board” information page.

The site’s disclaimer page (http://www.ada.org.au/disclaimer.aspx), apparently last updated on 18 January 2004, states:

Information presented in the “Consumer Information” section was authored by the ADA Inc. Oral Health Education Committee. This Committee meets regularly and is responsible for reviewing and updating the “Consumer Information” section. All Oral Health Education Committee members are fully qualified and board registered dentists. In addition to this process, all information posted on the ADA inc website is reviewed and approved by the ADA Inc IT Manger/webmaster who also is a fully qualified and board registered dentist.

There does not appear to be any obviously designated “Consumer Information” section; I hazard a guess that this wording refers to some older version of the site. I have not seen any indication as to who makes up the “ADA Inc. Oral Health Education Committee”, nor who the “ADA Inc IT Manger/webmaster” is. This same disclaimer  even says that

The views and opinions expressed on this site are not necessarily those of the ADA Inc., the ADA State Branches or their affiliates.

so there is possibly content that is not authored by the ADA, and that the ADA doesn’t even agree with.

The qualifications and training of the anonymous group of authors is mentioned only as “fully qualified and board registered dentists”, without explaining what that means, nor even who or what the board is they are registered with. Perhaps, for the HONcode requirements, saying “registered dentist” is sufficient. If so, this should be clarified in the HONcode guidelines.

Principle 2 – Purpose of the website

A statement clearly declaring that the information on the website is not meant to replace the advice of a health professional has to be provided. E.g. of such a statement is ‘The information provided on [your web site] is designed to complement, not replace, the relationship between a patient and his/her own physician.’

A brief description of the website’s mission, purpose and intended audience is necessary.

Another brief description of the organisation behind the website, its mission and its purpose is also necessary.

The ADA site does not appear to offer a clear description of its mission, purpose and intended audience. Content apparently approaching this is found on the disclaimer page (http://www.ada.org.au/disclaimer.aspx):

The information contained in this online site is presented in summary form only and intended to provide broad consumer understanding and knowledge of dental health care topics.

Currently, the “About the ADA” section (http://www.ada.org.au/about/default.aspx) has broken links to content called “Overview” and “Functions”. The brief introduction on that page may be sufficient to describe the organisation, mission and purpose, though they are not obviously denoted as such:

Overview The Australian Dental Association is an organisation of dentists which has as its aim the encouragement of the health of the public and the promotion of the art and science of dentistry.

Functions There are Branches of the Association in all States and Territories. Membership is voluntary and over 90% of dentists in Australia are members.

Strategic Plan The Australian Dental Association Inc is a national association of dentists committed to promoting the art, science and ethical practice of dentistry, improving the oral health of the community and enhancing the professional lives of its members. To achieve this Mission for the period 2005 to 2008, seven major goals have been set.

Principle 4 – Information must be documented: Referenced and dated

All medical content (page or article) has to have a specific date of creation and a last modification date.

Date of last modification must also be included on every page describing ethical and legal information, author(s), mission, and the intended audience.

All sources of the medical content must be given. You have to clearly indicate the recognized, scientific or official sources of health information quoted in your articles. If you used another website, a book, an article, a database or any other support, it has to be specified. You have to provide a precise link to the source, whenever it is possible and the references should be in relation with the content referred.

Note: – The last time the whole site was updated or the copyright date only, are not sufficient to comply with this principle. The ‘last update’ date should not be set to automatically display the current date.

-Depending on the website and its content, you may gather a bibliography instead of having a specific source for each medical article or page. This bibliography should clearly outline each reference to each medical subject.

Large swathes of (medical related) content on the ADA site are completely unattributed (authorship), without sources and not dated. This includes both “webpages” (usual HTML content) and linked PDF documentation. Very few dates appear for any of the content displayed on webpages. Even the copyright notice (on the disclaimer page) shows “2002”, two years prior to the apparent last modfication of that page. The FAQs section (http://www.ada.org.au/oralhealth/faqs/default.aspx) does have dates, though they appear to be mostly only “12/1/2001” or “1/1/2002”; perhaps batches of information were uploaded on a couple of dates and attributed to these dates (1 January seems an unlikely date given that it is a public holiday in Australia, but given that it is 7+ years ago the exact date isn’t so much an issue).

Of special concern are numerous medical claims made regarding the overall safety of products and chemicals, well outside of what I expect “dentistry” to cover, for which significant research findings have been made in recent years.

Principle 5 – Justification of claims

All information about the benefits or performance of any treatment (medical and/or surgical), commercial product or service are considered as claims. All claims have to be backed up with scientific evidence (medical journals, reports or others).

All medical information must be balanced.

All brand names have to be identified (with ® for example). Unless the purpose of the site is clearly stated to be the commercial platform of a particular product, it must include alternative therapies or products (including generics).

The AMA site makes numerous claims about products and treatments that, aside from on occasion appearing to be patently false or contradictory, are completely unjustified.

The site also repeatedly directs readers to, if not a specific brands of products, specific types of product, such as fluoride toothpaste, fluoride tablets, fluoride gels, fluoridated food products and additives, and even fluoridated water, without any “alternative therapy” offered for cleaning teeth and maintaining dental health.

As a simplificatioin, the product/treatment here is fluoride and its application/consumption. There are a number of documents provided on the website, for example, on the “Fluoride Resources” page (http://www.ada.org.au/oralhealth/fln/flresources.aspx) that might be intended as justification, however there is little or no association made between the majority of claims made in the rest of the site and these documents.

General safety claims are also made about mercury-containing dental amalgam as a type of product.

The medical information is certainly far from balanced. Concerns about harmful effects are, if mentioned a all, mentioned only briefly and in a significantly dismissive way, giving the impression that concerns have been raised only by an uneducated public, when in fact thousands of qualified dental and medical professionals around the world have very strong concerns about the potential harmful effects, and indeed questions about the efficacy of the use of fluoride in the first place. Documents on the website make claims for efficacy of “about half” and even “60%”, which are significant exaggerations at best. Statements such as “There is universal agreement between all the major public health bodies throughout the world regarding the benefits of water fluoridation” (“Fluoride – Nature thought f it first”, prefaced by a letter from the president of the ADA, at http://www.ada.org.au/app_cmslib/media/lib/0609/m16777_v1_fluoride%20-%20nature%20thought%20of%20it%20first.pdf) are grossly misleading (it is an undeniable fact that many countries do not support nor implement water fluoridation).

Summary

Details of the water fluoridation argument (and safety of mercury in fillings, etc) aside, it is apparent that the current ADA website does not respect a number of the HONcode principles – to an obvious and significant extent – and I imagine this to have been the case for a number of years, if not from the original review in January 2004. This example does not instill confidence in the credibility of the Health On the Net Foundation seal used for medical and health websites. I seek your explanation as to how a site reviewed numerous times with such glaring inconsistencies could be certified. I have not particularly listed examples of the inconsistencies since they appear on almost every page of the ADA website – if you cannot see them, I hold little hope for the HONcode’s reputation at all.

This complaint will be published online for public review and comment (at least at https://bradfieldresident.wordpress.com), and I intend to publish your response.

Bradfield Resident
Sydney, Australia

Tuesday 25 August 2009


Bradfield Resident
bradfieldresident@gmail.com
https://bradfieldresident.wordpress.com

Posted in Australian Dental Association, Fluoride, Health, Health On the Net Foundation, Mail Sent, Mercury, Water Fluoridation | Tagged: | 3 Comments »