Leading oral health charity, the British Dental Health Foundation, has welcomed Public Health England’s confirmation that water fluoridation significantly improves oral health.

The report reveals more than one in four (28 per cent) five-year-olds and one in five (21 per cent) 12-year-olds in local authorities with water fluoridation schemes had no tooth decay compared to those in local authorities without such schemes.

Fluoridated areas also saw fewer children aged one to four in fluoridated areas admitted to hospital for tooth decay compared to non-fluoridated areas.

The report also rubbished claims fluoridated water supplies can lead to health problems. Public Health England found no differences between fluoridated and non-fluoridated areas in their rates of hip fracture, cancer, and Down’s syndrome births.

The National Dental Epidemiology Programme for England, oral health survey of five-year-old children 2012 survey revealed the growing need for local authorities to fluoridate their water. Levels of decay vary regionally with more children in northern regions with tooth decay than those in the south and eastern regions.

Levels of decay ranged from more than one in five (21.2 per cent) of five-year-olds in the South East to more than one in three (34.8 per cent) in the North West. Decay levels were higher in the more deprived local authorities.

Though there has been opposition, Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, hopes this research finally ends the debate surrounding water fluoridation.

Glass of WaterDr Carter says: “Although water fluoridation schemes have been in place in the UK for more than 40 years, only around five-and-a-half million people have been drinking water from a fluoridated area.

“Fluoride was added to the Birmingham supply in 1964 and the difference in dental health compared to the neighbouring population in non-fluoridated Sandwell was stark. When Sandwell’s water was fluoridated in 1987 it transformed levels of oral health, putting a poor borough amongst the top ten areas for dental health in the country.

There is a continued need for water fluoridation to help tackle remaining inequalities, particularly in the more deprived areas of the country. The addition of fluoride in toothpaste alone has been responsible for reducing decay by up to 50 per cent. Levels of dental decay have also fallen in fluoridated and non-fluoridated areas in the UK, yet only 12 per cent of the population have fluoridated water.

Fluoridation is the most important single measure that the UK Government can take to bring a substantial change in the nation’s dental health. The British Dental Health Foundation is calling for Government to facilitate the rapid introduction of fluoride into the nation’s water supplies, particularly in areas of social and economic deprivation.”

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