The verdict at the High Court to rule that the plans to fluoridate Southampton’s water supply was not illegal will be of a great benefit to an area where tooth decay amongst under-fives has been a problem.
Though there has been opposition, robust scientific research supports the fact that fluoride significantly improves oral health and there is no evidence to suggest that it can have any negative impact on overall health.
Fluoride was added to the Birmingham supply in 1964 and the difference in dental health compared to the neighbouring population in non-fluoridated Sandwell was stark.
When Sandwell’s water was fluoridated in 1987 it transformed levels of oral health, putting a poor borough amongst the top 10 areas for dental health in the country.
Although water fluoridation schemes have been in place in the UK for more than 40 years, only around five-and-a-half million people have been drinking water from a fluoridated area.
Fluoridation is the most important single measure that the UK government can take to bring a substantial change in the nation’s dental health.
The British Dental Health Foundation now calls for the government to facilitate the rapid introduction of fluoride into the nation’s water supplies, particularly in areas of social and economic deprivation.