New water fluoridation report paves way to eliminating children’s dental health crisis in England

Following the publication of the ‘Water fluoridation: health monitoring in England 2018’ report by Public Health England (PHE), leading health charity, the Oral Health Foundation , is calling on local authorities to use it as a springboard to introduce water fluoridation schemes and help address the children’s oral health crisis being experienced in England.

Shockingly tooth decay is the number one reason why children are admitted to hospital in England, with recent figures from the Local Government Association (LGA), revealing that there were nearly 43,000 hospital operations to remove unhealthy teeth in children in the last year.

This is part of a wider children’s dental health crisis in England, where more than one in ten (12%) three-year olds suffer from tooth decay, increasing to a quarter (25%) of five-year-olds. What is more worrying is that this rises to half of all five-year olds in the worst affected local authority areas.

The main findings from the report are:

  • 5-year-olds in areas with water fluoridation schemes were 23% less likely to suffer from tooth decay in the least deprived areas and 52% less likely in the most deprived areas.
  • The chances of a child having teeth removed in hospital because of decay was significantly lower in areas with water fluoridation schemes.
  • Children from all areas benefited from water fluoridation, with children from the most deprived areas benefitting the most.
  • There was no evidence of higher rates of hip fractures, Down’s syndrome, kidney stones, bladder cancer, or osteosarcoma (a cancer of the bone) in areas with water fluoridation schemes.
  • Speaking about the new report, CEO of the Oral Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, said: “This is an exciting and comprehensive report from PHE which shows how water fluoridation is a highly effective, and safe, way of significantly reducing dental health inequalities across England and will reduce cases of childhood tooth decay across the country.

    “Almost all cases of tooth decay are completely preventable, by introducing water fluoridation schemes local authorities can make a significant impact on reducing the childhood dental health crisis in Britain and reduce the needless pain and suffering of tens of thousands of children every year.

    “The single biggest improvement to the oral health of Britain in recent years came with the introduction of fluoride in toothpastes and that can be eclipsed further with more water fluoridation schemes.

    “During my time as a dentist in Birmingham, I witnessed first-hand the huge benefits of water fluoridation, with children from Birmingham, which had water with added fluoride, having little or no decay and their neighbours from then un-fluoridated Sandwell experiencing significantly higher levels of decay, I could literally tell which side of the road they lived on by looking at their teeth.

    “In terms of finding cost-effective ways to improve the oral health of people in the UK, I strongly believe there are few better solutions than nationwide water fluoridation.”

    Follow the link to read the report in full:

    The Water fluoridation: health monitoring report for England 2018 report is available to view online with the next report due by March 2022 at the latest.

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