22 Nov 2013

Wales - Fluoride in our water supply does improve our health, insists chief dentist

22 Nov 2013
There's no plans to put fluoride in Wales' water supply, but Welsh Government will continue to review the issue

Adding fluoride to the water supply 'has a significant effect on reducing health inequalities'
Adding fluoride to the water supply 'has a significant effect on reducing health inequalities'
There is strong scientific evidence to show that adding fluoride to the water supply has a significant effect on reducing health inequalities, the Chief Dental Officer, has said.
David Thomas said that the Welsh Government currently had no plans to fluoridate the water supply, but said he had discussed the issue with Health Minister Mark Drakeford and it was something the Welsh Government will continue to review.
Critics have argued against its introduction, claiming that it is “mass medication” and have raised concerns about its health impact.
But giving evidence to the National Assembly’s Health and Social Care Committee, Mr Thomas said: “In terms of fluoridation, the Welsh Government policy line is that there are no plans to fluoridate the water supply.
“I have discussed the issue with the Minister. There are some particular political and financial issues that would make fluoridation difficult, but it’s something that we will continue to keep under review because obviously there is evidence that the health of the whole community is improved with fluoridation.
“From a scientific point of view, fluoride in the water supply certainly provides an improvement in oral health for all members of the population. One of the things that the research shows is that it has an effect on the haves and the have-nots, so it has a fantastic effect on reducing inequality.”
His comments come after statistics released showed that the number of children and babies aged between 0-4 being receiving fillings or sealant restoration has doubled to reach 1,080 in the past four years.
Mr Thomas also told the committee that recent figures, which also show just 54% of the population visited an NHS dentist in the past two years, did not show the full picture.
He said: “The 54% of the population that are going to dentists – that’s the NHS. That doesn’t include 10% of the population, usually deprived adults and children, seen by community dental services and approximately 20% go to private contract. So there is a bigger percentage of the population going to the dentist than reflected in the NHS figures.
“We accept accessibility for patients who have not been to the dentist for a while is patchy, but we continue to work with health boards on this issue. The one thing we are sure about that if a patient is in pain, all local health boards in Wales offer emergency dental services though the week and all local health boards have services available on Saturdays, Sundays and bank holidays.”
He also said great strides were being made in reducing tooth decay in children through the Designed to Smile scheme.
He said: “[Initial evidence shows] there was a 17% reduction in decay rates in children who are participating in Design to Smile. We need to validate this...[but] we believe we have some initial evidence that it’s working. The children that access Designed to Smile are usually the most deprived children in Wales and this is the way we will reduce dental decay here.”

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