water fluoridation
Water fluoridation choices can now be made at a local level after PHE launched its online toolkit

An online toolkit from Public Health England (PHE) will now allow local authorities to choose to implement water fluoridation.

Available on the gov.uk website, the 79-page toolkit, Improving oral health: a community water fluoridation toolkit for local authorities, covers everything you need to know about water fluoridation.

This includes the evidence for the benefits of water fluoridation, as well as the complex processes that need to be followed to achieve fluoridation of the local water supply.

In 2014, the British Society of Paediatric Dentistry (BSPD) called for the fluoridation of water supplied where the burden of tooth decay is severe enough to warrant the public measure.

Professor Kevin Fenton, PHE’s national director of health and wellbeing, says the agency is ‘wholly supportive’ of the BSPD’s position.

Strong evidence

Claire Stevens, spokeswoman for the BSPD, commented: ‘The evidence behind the positive impact of fluoride on teeth is strong.

‘However, there are many areas of the UK where there is no fluoride in the water and children and young people in these areas suffer from more dental decay than in other areas.’

She said that roughly six million people in the UK benefit from fluoridated water, either because it occurs naturally in the water supply or because it’s added in minute quantities as a supplement.

‘While I welcome PHE’s recognition for our position statement and know that our membership is happy to play a role, I do feel frustrated that responsibility for fluoridation has been passed down to local level’, she added.

‘Each locality will have to deal with their local water board and carry out a consultation of the local population.

‘The work involved is complex and costly.

‘My fear is that water fluoridation will happen in some areas but not others and this will reinforce the inequalities that already exist.’

However, Claire said that she believes in staying positive: ‘I hope that the toolkit and a commitment to wipe out the health inequalities created by the absence of fluoride in some areas will win over the hearts and minds of community decision-makers.

‘BSPD is at the ready to support them.’