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01 October 2021
Fluoride to be added to tap water

The policy of adding fluoride to drinking water (it occurs naturally in some sources) across the UK is a step closer after the chief medical officers concluded that the mineral would cut tooth decay. Dates and funding are still to be set.

Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England, and his counterparts in the rest of the UK cited estimates by Public Health England that adding more fluoride to water supplies would reduce cavities by 17% among the richest children and 28% among the poorest.

In an evidence review published in September, the medical officers concluded: “As with all things in medicine and public health there is a balance of risk and benefit. There is unquestionably an issue with tooth decay in the UK and an entrenched inequality which needs to be addressed. Fluoridation of water can reduce this common problem.

“On balance, there is strong scientific evidence that water fluoridation is an effective public health intervention for reducing the prevalence of tooth decay and improving dental health equality across the UK.”

The health bill now going before MPs will give Sajid Javid, the health secretary, the power to order fluoridation across the country. He tweeted: “Good to see UK CMOs examining how water fluoridation can improve oral health & prevent tooth decay which disproportionately affects more deprived groups. Reinforces why our health and care bill will make it simpler to expand water fluoridation schemes.”

Visit www.theguardian.com/society/2021/sep/23/fluoride-will-be-added-to-uk-drinking-water-to-cut-tooth-decay for the full report in the Guardian.

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