‘Effective solution’ – fluoride to be added to UK drinking water

'Effective solution' – fluoride set to be added to UK drinking waterFluoride will be added to water supplies after chief medical officers deem it an ‘effective solution’ to oral health inequalities.

England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty said adding fluoride to the UK’s drinking water would cut cavities by around 17% among the most advantaged children. However it would decrease by a significant 28% among the most disadvantaged.

The number of hospital admissions for tooth extractions would also drop, falling between 45 and 68% among children and young people.

Entrenched inequality

In a new evidence review, all four chief medical officers concluded that fluoridation is an ‘effective public health intervention’ for reducing tooth decay.

They wrote: ‘As with all things in medicine and public health there is a balance of risk and benefit. There is unquestionably an issue with tooth decay in the UK and an entrenched inequality which needs to be addressed. Fluoridation of water can reduce this common problem.

‘On balance, there is strong scientific evidence that water fluoridation is an effective public health intervention for reducing the prevalence of tooth decay as well as improving dental health equality across the UK. It should be seen as a complementary strategy, not a substitute for other effective methods of increasing fluoride use.’

The new health bill gives Health Secretary, Sajid Javid, the power to implement fluoridation across all of the UK. However steps towards centralisation are not yet expected.

Fluoride a ‘simple addition’

In England, currently just 5.8 million people have access to fluoridated drinking water.

The review was welcomed by the British Fluoridation Society (BFS). Dr Barry Cockcroft, CBE and BFS chair, argued that it would help both adults and children.

‘It confirms that water fluoridation schemes are safe and effective. They have a positive impact on tackling completely avoidable oral health inequalities in children and also adults across the UK,’ he said.

‘We have been campaigning on this issue for many years. It is great to see it back on the table. Community water fluoridation schemes positively benefit all ages; both children and the increasing number of older people retaining their teeth into later life.’

He added: ‘The ability to strengthen tooth enamel and reduce cavities with the simple addition of fluoride to water is a powerful and cost effective tool.’

You can also read the full report here.

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