Water fluoridation reduces tooth decay

People living in fluoridated areas in the UK have lower levels of tooth decay, and children are far more likely to avoid the trauma of having diseased teeth removed under general anaesthesia than those living in non-fluoridated areas, a new report published by Public Health England today confirms.

The report, welcomed by the British Dental Association (BDA), also confirms what the dental community has known for decades that there is no evidence that water fluoridation schemes in the UK are harmful to health.

While research indicates that everyone’s teeth can benefit from water fluoridation, the BDA concurs with the report’s finding that the most striking difference can be seen in children living in the most deprived areas of the country.

In closing the gap in oral health inequalities, the report notes that 28% fewer five-year olds have tooth decay in fluoridated areas than non-fluoridated areas when deprivation and ethnicity – both important factors for dental health – are taken into account.

The BDA’s scientific adviser, Professor Damien Walmsley, said: ‘The report is a timely reminder of the significant role that fluoridation plays in reducing tooth decay which remains a significant health problem in England.

‘It also emphasises the important role it plays in alleviating the misery of den­tal general anaesthesia in children.

‘When tooth decay is a preventable disease, it’s depressing that so many children in England ­– at least 25,000 last year – have such extensive tooth decay that they need to have this procedure.

‘Undergoing such an operation at a tender age can lead to life-long anxiety about having dental treatment, and so perpetuates a cycle of avoiding dental care until emergency treatment is required.’

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