REGULATIONS to reduce the levels of fluoride in the public water supply are to be brought forward shortly – more than four years after a government-commissioned report first called for the measure.
Health Minister Mary Harney has confirmed that she is to introduce the regulations following advice from the expert group set up to guide the department on the implementation of the report.
The original recommendation was contained in a report commissioned by former health minister Micheal Martin, which was published as far back as September 2002.
It said dental fluorosis is increasing in the Republic and – while recommending that water fluoridation should continue as a public health measure – the level of fluoride should be reduced from one part per million to 0.7 parts per million. It called for the amending of the Fluoridation of Water Supplies Regulations to reflect international quality specifications.
Dental fluorosis occurs during tooth development, especially between the ages of 6 months to 5 years, and is caused by overexposure to fluoride. In high concentrations fluoride can cause yellowing of teeth, white spot, and pitting or mottling of enamel, leaving the teeth looking unsightly.
The report of the forum on fluoridation concluded overall that adding fluoride to our water supplies was “harmless to health” and it had been “very effective in improving oral health”.
A key concern however was the rise in dental fluorosis.