Water Fluoridation and Oral Health

What is Water Fluoridation?

Fluoride is a natural mineral that is found in the earth’s crust, certain foods and in some areas, water. In the 1930’s, researchers became aware of the link between fluoridated water and oral health. While some areas of the UK have naturally fluoridated water, it is added to the water supplies in others. The process of water Fluoridation involves water companies adjusting and monitoring the water so it contains 1mg of fluoride. However, this practice can be a controversial topic and according to the British Dental Association, only 10% of the UK’s population lives in areas where water fluoridation occurs.

Benefits of Fluoride for Oral health

Fluoride can help prevent tooth decay by hardening the enamel on teeth. Fluoride also aids in the demineralisation and remineralisation process of the mouth, as it makes the minerals that are created harder, promoting the strengthening of teeth.

Dental Health Emergency

Dental health professionals are warning that the country is in the midst of dental health crisis, with 12% of three year olds experiencing tooth decay, rising to 25% for five year olds. Even more shockingly, the Local Government Association has found that over 40,000 children were admitted to hospital for operations to remove decaying teeth in the UK.

What can be done?

A new report, named ‘Water fluoridation: health monitoring in England 2018’ from the Oral Health Foundation, has found that water fluoridation has a large impact on the oral health of children.  Research found children in areas with water fluoridation were 23% less likely to develop tooth decay than those living outside of water fluoridation areas. The report also suggests that water fluoridation helps children living in deprived areas the most, finding these children were about half as likely to experience decay. Findings also found no link to the health problems sometimes cited as caused by fluoride, such as cancers and fractures.

Currently, it is luck of the postcode as to who receives fluoridated water, leaving large areas and communities at a disadvantage. However, dentists and leading oral health professionals are hopeful that these new findings, showing that water fluoridation is safe and effective, will lead to the introduction of more water fluoridation schemes across the UK.

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