Health Minister backs water fluoridation


The Health Minister has backed water fluoridation, but admits MPs will never vote for it

The Health Minister responsible for dentistry has backed mass fluoridation of tap water to cut tooth decay – but warned MPs will never vote for it.

Alistair Burt said he was ‘perfectly convinced by the science’, which concludes there are huge benefits to oral health from adding fluoride, which currently reaches just 10% of the population.

But, speaking in a Commons debate, Mr Burt reminded MPs that fluoridation had been debated ‘bitterly’ at Westminster as far back as the 1980s.

And he said: ‘I do not think there is any prospect of pushing the matter through the House at present.

‘I am perfectly convinced by the science and that is my personal view, but this is a matter that must be taken on locally.’

Water fluoridation 

With the axing of strategic health authorities in 2013, decisions on whether to fluoridate water now rest with local councils, directly answerable to suspicious voters.

Public Health England (PHE) pulled the plug on a proposed scheme in south Hampshire – despite its firm belief in the benefits – because of the lack of support from Southampton City Council.

Mr Burt said: ‘Water fluoridation is an effective way of reducing dental decay.

‘However, as the House knows, the matter is not in my hands.

‘Local authorities now have responsibility for making proposals regarding any new fluoridation schemes.

‘I am personally in favour.’

Child dental health

The comments came during a debate on what Sir Paul Beresford, the chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Dentistry, called the ‘disgrace’ of child dental health.

Sir Paul poured scorn on growing support – including, apparently, from David Cameron – for a ‘sugar tax’, partly to cut rates of dental caries.

He said: ‘I wish it were that simple.

‘I personally believe that that would not make one iota of difference after a few months.

‘One need only stand in the supermarket watching the kids pushing the mothers for sweets and the mothers feeding them to realise that.’

Instead, Sir Paul called for:

  • A ‘national oral health programme’ – along the lines of Scotland’s initiative to distribute of fluoride toothpaste and toothbrushes at nursery and in the first year of primary school
  • Schools to be required to check that every primary school pupil ‘has visited the dentist once a year’ – while admitting some dentists would have to be ‘bullied’ into it
  • Oral health training of midwives, health visitors and pharmacists – including ‘persuasion on fluoride’
  • A campaign to persuade food and drink producers to cut the sugar content
  • Promotion of oral fluoride for children ‘until such time as the water supply in the area in which the children live is fluoridated’

Extent of dental caries a ‘disgrace’

Sir Paul said: ‘The extent of dental caries among children in England is sad and it is a disgrace.

‘It has been a disgrace for decades.

‘It is preventable and, if we prevent it, we can make considerable savings to our health service and save the pain and suffering of England’s children.

‘Minister, it is in your hands.’

In response, Mr Burt agreed the consequences of caries among children in poorer areas is ‘horrific’ and ‘makes us weep’.

But he insisted overall levels of oral health in in five-year-olds is ‘better than it has ever been, with 72% of five-year-old children in England decay free’.

The minister added: ‘Between 2008 and 2012, the number of five-year-old children who showed signs of decay fell by approximately 10%.’


  1. 1

    ….. there is also the ‘Designed to Smile’ programme, running in Wales now for more than 8 years! Results, I understand more than match those of the Scottish scheme

  2. 2

    I am unaware where the minister gets his science from but what I am aware of is that fluoride has absolutely no benefit to killing mouth bacteria which are the cause of tooth decay unless it is applied topically onto the teeth. Given that the application of arsenic would do exactly the same job why on earth would you even consider it. I ask the minister to divulge the ‘science’ he has accepted and furthermore produce a single independent peer reviewed scientific study that categorically backs up his view. I do not believe there is one and yet there are thousands of independent peer reviewed scientific studies that show how dangerous a substance fluoride is. It dumbs people down, it is a proven neurotoxin, it kills on contact, it calcifies the human pineal gland and these are but a few of the noxious effects of fluoride. Furthermore, do not be fooled into believing it is naturally occurring Sodium Fluoride that is added to the population water supply. It is an industrial waste product that is used, hexafluorosilicic acid to be exact. A Highly toxic bio hazard material derived from the fertilizer and aluminium industries. One which used to cost them millions of pounds per year to dispose of safely but now they sell it to the British water industry for profit and the Great British Water Industry puts it into our drinking and bathing water. The minister needs to read up on his science a little more comprehensively before making announcements that are a little more economical with the truth than have the right to be.

    • 3

      “Professor” Michael Clark –

      For an alleged professor, I would expect to see some legitimate claims with specific citations to support your claims and not a bunch of random sentences making unsupported allegations copied from anti-F sites.

      Apparently your “investigation of evidence” does not extend beyond the anti-F sites, otherwise you would discover what the minister knows, that there are thousands of peer reviewed studies spanning 70 years that demonstrate fluoridation is a safe and effective public health program. Links to over 160 of those studies can be found here,

    • 4
  3. 5

    If Mr. Burt is convinced by the science then he isn’t keeping up to date. For example, there is now peer reviewed research indicating higher rates of osteosarcoma in young men growing up in fluoridated areas. He obviously hasn’t seen the data sheet for the fluoridating agent used, hexafluorosilicic acid, either, which is a contaminated by-product of superphosphate fertiliser manufacture. All this for what the government commissioned York Review found – on the basis of no research of good quality – to deliver an average 14.7% reduction in caries and that long term safety “could not be guaranteed”. Fluoridation is a house of cards.

    • 6

      Paul Clein – How can you possibly claim fluoridation causes cancer of any kind when none of the recognized cancer organizations make that claim? The American Cancer Society states, “More recent studies have compared the rates of osteosarcoma in areas with higher versus lower levels of fluoridation in Great Britain, Ireland, and the United States. These studies have not found an increased risk of osteosarcoma in areas of water fluoridation.”

      Also, if you had any concept of dilution, you would understand that any contaminants in the fluoridating agents are diluted and regulated to be far below any levels known to cause harm.

      Provide legitimate evidence for any of the claims you make.

  4. 7

    There is no credible evidence that fluoridated water has ever prevented a single dental cavity. The forced-fluoridation fanatics often try to claim that the low rates of dental caries in western European countries which do not have artificially fluoridated public water supplies are due to naturally occurring fluoride in water, or some other kind of artificial fluoridation such as salt fluoridation. They are lying.

    • 8

      As noted elsewhere in my comments, over 70 years and thousands of peer reviewed studies demonstrate that fluoridation is both safe and effective. The only reason you can make the claim that, “There is no credible evidence that fluoridated water has ever prevented a single dental cavity” is because you refuse to read or consider any evidence that is outside the confines of anti-F literature. That’s a very convenient strategy if you have no intention of actually evaluating all the available evidence.

      You make an arbitrary decision that you dislike the practice of fluoridation, and then pick and choose ‘evidence’ you can edit and distort to try and convince others that a beneficial health program is dangerous.

      You and other fluoridation opponents apparently feel you have the right to force your opinions and unsubstantiated fears on an entire population when the overwhelming majority of evidence indicates that fluoridation is safe and provides significant benefits to the population – particularly the underprivileged. But then fluoridation opponents apparently care only about their own selfish desires and throw tantrums whenever they feel their demands have been denied.

      Explain why over 100 national and international science and health organizations (and their thousands of members – experts in their fields ) as well as six Surgeons General since 1982 SUPPORT the practice of fluoridation as a safe and effective public health policy to reduce dental decay and resulting health problems. These organizations include The World Health Organization, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association and the American Dental Association.

      If legitimate scientific evidence actually supported the anti-F claims that fluoridation at optimal levels caused any of the alleged harmful health effects, one would expect there to be some organized opposition to the scientific consensus. There is none. Why not?

      Perhaps — just perhaps — it is because there is no conspiracy and the overwhelming majority of legitimate scientific evidence actually demonstrates the safety and effectiveness of fluoridation. For me, that is a far more believable scenario than the FOs’ alternative.

      This reference provides links to over 160 specific studies you can read that support fluoridation as a safe and effective public health policy:

      “We should ask not are we entitled to impose fluoridation on unwilling people, but are the unwilling people entitled to impose the risks, damage & costs of the failure to fluoridate on the community at large? When we compare the freedoms at stake, the most crucial is surely the one which involves liberation from pain and disease.” – Dr. John Harris of the Department of Ethics and Social Policy at the University of Manchester, UK

  5. 9

    “Professor” Michael Clark, Paul Clein, Dan Germouse

    Because you do not like the thought of drinking fluoride ions, you are demanding that a public health policy with 70 years of evidence that demonstrates the benefits to a population far outweigh the risks be scrapped. If I didn’t like the thought of being poisoned by ingesting unknown and variable amounts of toxic disinfection byproducts, would I have the right to demand that disinfection be halted immediately – at least until all the dozens of disinfection byproducts in drinking water were proven to be absolutely safe for everyone regardless of how much water they drank per day or for how long?

    There are, however, over 70 years of legitimate, peer reviewed scientific evidence that clearly demonstrates the safety and effectiveness of drinking water fluoridation. That is the evidence that the overwhelming majority of scientific and health experts have used to develop and support the consensus that fluoridation is safe and effective.

  6. 10

    Dear Randy Johnson
    Thank you very much for your insightful comments and the links to the studies.
    The anti F- groupes however will never be convinced by scientific facts. Pseudo science and conspiracy theories will be more convenient to digest for this group.
    Suffice to say that dear professor Micheal Clark shows his immense “knowledge” of the effects of Fluoride in preventing caries when he writes ” what I am aware of is that fluoride has absolutely no benefit to killing mouth bacteria …. “)
    It would be prudent to at least try to find out about the ways (a hint , our dear professor is remineralisation of the enamel) fluoride exert its effect to prevent caries before expressing very strong objections to it which hopefully prevent such a public display of ignorance regarding the cariostatic effects of Fluoride.

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