In the United Kingdom, the Association of Directors of Public Health (ADPH) is urging the government to pursue six strategies to reduce disparities in children’s oral health. One of the six strategies advanced by ADPH is to increase the number of community water fluoridation programs.
ADPH describes fluoridation as “the single most effective public health measure for reducing tooth decay rates.” Currently, only 6 million of England’s 56 million residents have access to fluoridated water.
In releasing its six strategies, the Association cited data showing that tooth decay is the leading cause of hospital admissions in England for 5 to 9 year-olds. ADPH also cited a just-published British dental survey, which revealed that:
- Overall, 24% of 5 year-old children in England had experienced tooth decay.
- The proportion of 5 year-olds with decay rose to 29% when including “enamel decay” — an early stage of decay that “would ordinarily be counted as being free of obvious decay,” the survey explains.
- Children living in the most deprived areas of England were almost three times as likely to have experienced dentinal decay (35%) as those living in the least deprived areas (13.5%).
The ADPH statement offering six strategies was also signed by several other prestigious organizations:
- British Dental Association
- Faculty of Public Health
- HENRY, a group that provides support to parents and children
- Institute of Health Visiting
- Oral Health Foundation
- Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health
- Royal Society for Public Health
- School and Public Health Nurses Association
This strong statement reflects the role that fluoridation plays in reducing oral health disparities.