Water fluoridation can ‘significantly reduce’ extractions and cavities among children.
This is according to the latest health monitoring report for England.
The findings are particularly beneficial for children and young people living in more deprived areas.
Carried out by the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) and the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), the findings show that those in areas with higher fluoride concentrations were around 63% less likely to be admitted to hospital for tooth extractions due to decay.
The difference was most significant in deprived areas where young people benefited the most from fluoridation.
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Safe and effective
Barry Cockcroft is chair of the British Fluoridation Society (BFS). He said he was not surprised by these findings – but was delighted by the timely publication.
Having lived and practised in a fluoridated area, he has seen first hand the beneficial impact water fluoridation can have.
He said: ‘The body of scientific evidence that indicates it is both safe and effective is massive and comes from around the world. Around 400 million people worldwide benefit from water fluoridation with no evidence of harm.
‘It is a wonderful statement of intent from the government that they included clauses in the Health and Care Act. This will make it much easier to expand coverage across England. Hopefully, given the support from all four UK chief medical officers, across the devolved administrations as well.
‘Fluoride ions are present in all our tap water. It was this that led to people making the link between fluoride at the right level and a reduced prevalence of dental caries.
‘At the BFS conference in October both Lord Hunt, a Labour peer and president of the BFS, and Maria Caulfield, Minister with responsibility for dentistry, spoke in support of this highly evidence-based public health measure. It is rare to see both main parties so aligned.’
Neil Carmichael, chair of the Association of Dental Groups (ADG), welcomed the move but said now more needs to be done to recruit dentists – both at home and abroad.
He added: ‘It is widely accepted that water fluoridation is one of the most effective measures that can be taken to prevent dental disease.
‘But only a tenth of England has access to fluoridated water.
‘We welcome this monitoring report on water fluoridation as confirmation that further expansion of schemes will help “level up” the country’s oral health. We will support the government in its plans to expand schemes.
‘Whilst water fluoridation holds out hope for future generations, it will not solve the immediate crisis in access to NHS dentistry. Or the pain being suffered by patients waiting for care in many of the same deprived parts of England.
‘This will only be resolved by urgently recruiting more dentists from home and also abroad and reforming the broken NHS contract.’
To find out more about water fluoridation visit bfsweb.org. Membership is free.
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