An image of a five-year-old child’s rotting teeth is being used in an effort to build up support for adding fluoride to tap water.
The British Dental Association (BDA) has designed a postcard comparing the teeth of a five-year-old from Manchester, where fluoride is not put in water, with a child from Birmingham, where it is added.
While the youngster from Birmingham has a healthy mouth, the picture of the Manchester child shows rotting gums and missing teeth.
The BDA is calling on the public to send the postcard to their local MP ahead of a House of Commons vote on fluoridation.
Clause 61 of the Water Bill would allow strategic health authorities to force water companies to add fluoride to supplies.
Dr John Renshaw, chairman of the BDA’s executive board, said: “The picture of the child in Manchester doesn’t make easy viewing, but he is exactly the sort of child that water fluoridation could help.
“We live in the 21st Century, but there are still far too many people who do not have access to good diet and nutrition, or even a toothbrush and toothpaste.
“By adding fluoride to water supplies in areas where the local community supports it, we could help prevent dental decay like this and stop the pain and distress caused by it.”
Earlier this month the BDA published a child tooth decay “list of shame” showing that the areas where five-year-olds had the worst dental problems were also places where fluoride was not added to water.
But the National Pure Water Association says that fluoridation is illegal and violates several EU Directives.
Europe rejects fluoride
It has asked people to write to their MPs asking them to reject the Water Bill until the offending amendment has been removed.
The organisation says: “It is not the business of government to use the water supply to medicate the population without their consent.”
Most of western Europe has rejected water fluoridation.
The postcard campaign was being launched on Monday at a BDA fringe meeting at the Labour Party annual conference in Bournemouth.
It has the support of the Royal College of Nursing, the UK Public Health Association and the Faculty of Public Health at the Royal College of Physicians.
MPs will have a free vote on the fluoridation clause when it enters report stage, likely to be at the end of October or beginning of November.