WALES is to take over responsibility for fluoride in water supplies.
Assembly Members unanimously approved devolving a range of measures from Whitehall to Cardiff, among them the power to add fluoride to water.
Sue Essex, Local Government, Finance and Public Services Minister, said the Welsh Assembly Government would give the issue “very careful consideration” before any decision was taken.
She said: “It would have to be given serious consideration, and it would have to sit alongside our campaign for healthy eating.
“A lot of our youngsters are imbued with sugar in a way people don’t realise.
“The contents (of some foods) are quite scary when you read them. Clearly there is the issue of civil liberties, and people do feel strongly one way or the other.
“What we would need to do is respect the fact that there are many people out there who are worried. Clearly the government would have to put all the facts together.”
Any change would have to be justified by a significant improvement in dental health, Ms Essex said.
About 11pc of the UK population drink water with added fluoride.
Most are in the Midlands and North East England. None is currently in Wales.
During a plenary session, several AMs raised concerns at the prospect.
Plaid Cymru’s Dai Lloyd called for a full debate on the issue.
He said: “We firmly believe that prevention is better than cure, and what is needed is more dentists rather than mass medication.”
Labour’s Peter Law said he wanted to see a full public debate about fluoridation, saying: “There are a number of us in my party who do not agree with mass medication.”
The issue will be the responsibility of Health Minister Jane Hutt.