I welcome the Echo editor’s call for more to be done to help children with poor dental health (Echo 31st October) and thank him for acknowledging Hampshire Against Fluoridation’s campaign. HAF’s success was down to the support of local people who objected to having fluoridation imposed upon them. Our argument that fluoridation is ineffective and unethical is based on sound evidence.
HAF has indeed turned what the Echo terms our “formidable campaigning machine” towards the problems of child dental decay, having argued for a number of years for the use of effective alternatives. One of the great success stories has been the Scottish ChildSmile programme. In 2012 I met with the ChildSmile team in Glasgow to find out more about this programme. They were willing to come to Southampton to share their expertise if invited by local public health leaders – an offer unfortunately not taken up by the City Council. Instead we were told that a similar scheme was being delivered to children in the city and that everything possible was being done. Yet this scheme reached less than 10% of Southampton children. So much more could have been done for ALL children if the ChildSmile model had been adopted from the start, an approach now recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). The key to success is making better use of existing staff and resources – not just dentists and oral health specialists - but nursery leaders, teachers, playgroup leaders and others who already work with young children.
Excellent results could be achieved if public health leaders implemented a forward thinking city-wide community programme which would reach the children most in need. Implementing fluoridation would have cost PHE several hundred thousand pounds - let’s hope that they now invest this in effective community dental health programmes in Southampton. Such a move would ensure widespread support.
Professor Stephen Peckham
Hampshire Against Fluoridation