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Wednesday 26th October 2016

New fluoride in water push

4th February 2008

This week, Health Secretary Alan Johnson will support the addition of fluoride to water in Britain.


He will argue that adding the substance to the water supply will offer an "effective and relatively easy way" to decrease tooth problems and fillings in children living in deprived areas.

However, critics of the scheme have warned against "mass medication" and said it acts as "an infringement of civil liberties." They have also said that too much of the substance discolours teeth - causing a disease called fluorosis - and damages tooth enamel.

Mr Johnson will announce on 5 February that he wants "the NHS to do much more to prevent rather than just treat disease."

He will back the addition of fluoride to water, as it can "help address health inequalities, giving children from poorer backgrounds a dental health boost that can last a lifetime".

Currently, six million people in the North-east of the country and the Midlands drink and use fluoride-treated water.

The British Dental Association has backed the scheme, saying that it would "dramatically improve oral health among the needy".

Figures published by the Department of Health have shown that children in Manchester have double the risk of suffering tooth problems compared to those living in Birmingham, who drink water with added fluoride.

Critics of the scheme say that studies have associated excess fluoride with bone cancer and brittle bone disease. They argue that a decrease in the amount of sugar consumed and "regular brushing" is a superior way of reducing tooth decay.

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