A new report has been published by the government’s Public Health England (PHE) department that looks at the effects of fluoridated water on the health of UK residents. The results have been very positive, suggesting that the chemical could contribute heavily to reducing tooth decay if it was introduced to water systems across the country.
The publication, named ‘Water fluoridation: Health monitoring report for England 2014’ found that fluoride significantly reduces tooth decay, especially in younger children. Areas with fluoridated water saw 45 per cent fewer children aged one to four admitted to hospital due to tooth decay than the rest of the country.
A total of 28 per cent fewer five-year-olds were hospitalised due to tooth decay in fluoridated areas, and 21 per cent fewer 12-year-olds. In all cases, ethnicity and deprivation were taken into account.
The areas also saw lower rates of kidney stones and bladder cancer than the rest of the UK, although PHE’s researchers were keen not to attribute this to the fluoride in the water without further supporting research.
John Newton, chief knowledge officer at PHE, said: “This report provides further reassurance that water fluoridation is a safe and effective public health measure.”
The report also addressed the main concern with fluoridated water: that it might be hazardous to people’s health, as many people believe. The researchers looked at occurrences of diseases commonly associated with fluoride, and found that there was no significant difference between fluoridated and non-fluoridated areas.
The rates of hip fractures, the bone cancer osteosarcoma, cancers overall, the birth of children with Down’s syndrome and general mortality were not any different in fluoridated areas compared to the rest of the country. These are all commonly associated with fluoride.
Commenting on the report, chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation Nigel Carter said: “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 is calling for the government to facilitate the rapid introduction of fluoride into the nation’s water supplies, particularly in areas of social and economic deprivation.”