The Government denied today it said people should stop brushing their teeth after a letter to MPs highlighted the benefits of fluoridated water above more traditional methods or oral hygiene.
Public health minister Melanie Johnson wrote to MPs ahead of a vote on the Water Bill, which could see water companies forced to add fluoride to supplies in areas where it has local support.
Ms Johnson suggested that people who drink fluoridated water can protect their teeth “without needing to take any personal action”.
According to The Independent, Ms Johnson’s letter to MPs said: “An alternative to water fluoridation is fluoride toothpaste.
“But water fluoridation delivers greater reductions in decay than toothpaste and reaches the whole population rather than just those who adhere to a regular cleaning regime using fluoride toothpaste.
“It is also cheaper – water fluoridation costs around 50p per person per year – a year’s supply of toothbrushes and toothpaste costs around £10.”
But today Ms Johnson said: “We are not saying people should stop brushing their teeth.
“Water fluoridation delivers greater reductions in tooth decay than toothpaste and reaches everybody, including those people who don’t regularly brush their teeth.
“No area will introduce fluoridation without having undertaken proper consultation to ensure that the measure has strong local support.”
The British Dental Association has launched a widespread campaign to encourage MPs to vote in favour of fluoridation, pointing out that children in areas where fluoride is added to water have less tooth decay.
MPs are due to vote on a clause in the Water Bill which would allow strategic health authorities to force water companies to add fluoride to supplies in areas where it has support.