Doctor and councillor calling for flouride to be added to all of Nottinghamshire’s tap water
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Coun Dr John Doddy, Nottinghamshire Council health and wellbeing board chairman, said he is the “pied piper” of a campaign for water fluoridation in the county, adding it was “insanity” that fluoride has not been added to water across the whole country yet.
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found in some soils, food and drink which strengthens the outer surface of teeth, making them more resistant to decay.
It is added to dental products including many toothpastes, but can also be put into tap water, so it reaches whole populations.
The World Health Organization recommends water fluoridation as an “effective and safe public health intervention”.
Some areas of Nottinghamshire, including Mansfield, Bassetlaw, Ashfield and parts of Newark & Sherwood have had fluoride in their tap water since the 1970s.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said it wants “more of the country to benefit from water fluoridation”.
Opponents have raised concerns over dental fluorosis – a brown discolouration which can appear on a child’s teeth if exposed to too much flouride while still developing.
The NHS says it is “uncommon” in the UK for fluorosis to be severe enough to seriously affect the appearance of teeth, because fluoride levels are carefully monitored.
A motion by Coun Dr Doddy supporting water fluoridation across the county was passed by Nottinghamshire Council.
He said: “The reason it has become so important is the post-Covid deterioration in the oral health of the children of Nottingham.
“From my point of view, it’s simple. Putting fluoride in the water is the single most effective public health measure that exists for reducing dental decay.”
He said the chemical makes a 35 per cent reduction in rotten teeth – and questioned why it has not been added to water locally for 40 years.
He said in the areas which have fluoride in their water, there is a dental decay rate of about 18 per cent in children, compared with 37 per cent in other areas of the county.
He said: “The simple reality is in 40 years there hasn’t been a single side effect.
“I will get councils in the East Midlands to agree we want it and then go down to London and hand them the evidence.
“I’ve spoken personally to Health Secretary Steve Barclay and said it’s my mission to get fluoride in our water.
“I consider myself the pied piper of fluoridation.
“I have absolutely no doubt there will be a continuation of the challenge of children keeping their own teeth if we do not do this.
“The catastrophe which is dental health will continue to increase if nobody has the courage to step forward.”
A DHSC spokesman said: “Water fluoridation is a safe and effective measure to help improve our nation’s oral health, tackle disparities and reduce cavities and tooth extractions among children.
“We want more of the country to benefit from water fluoridation and recently transferred responsibilities for fluoridation schemes from Local Authorities to central government, making it simpler to expand schemes, subject to public consultation.”