THE NHS is to reconsider adding fluoride to the water supply in a bid to improve children’s rotting teeth. The controversial move comes as an investigation by The News today reveals five-year-olds in some areas have up to four decayed, missing or filled teeth by the time they go to primary school.
Evidence shows fluoridation can improve the dental health of up to a third of the population. But it can cause discolouration of children’s teeth.
Portsmouth City Teaching Primary Care Trust abandoned plans to call for a study into fluoridating the water supply in 2006 after board members voted six to five against the move.
But Paul Edmondson-Jones, director of public health and wellbeing, said he still backs fluoridation and could revisit the issue as early as next April.
Health officials will await the verdict on plans to add fluoride to drinking water in Southampton – which has been unanimously opposed by Hampshire County Council – before taking action.
Dr Edmondson-Jones said: ‘We’re definitely going to revisit fluoridation in Portsmouth, but we would be silly to do anything before we have learnt the outcome of the consultation in Southampton.
‘We have awful oral health in Portsmouth – it is among the worst in the south east. We have done a lot of work to try to improve that over the last five to 10 years but it hasn’t really changed things.
‘There is no evidence whatsoever that fluoridation causes any lasting harm or damage other than a small increase in fluorosis of the teeth in children.’
But fluoridation has its opponents.
Anne Richards, from Hampshire Against Fluoridation, said: ‘Fluoride is a registered poisonous substance and it can be extremely damaging. To fluoridate the water supply is totally irresponsible.’
Portsmouth city councillor Eleanor Scott, who is in charge of education, children and young people, added: ‘I’m not convinced that the are no health risks associated with putting fluoride into the water.’