FLUORIDE could soon be flowing through South Gloucestershire taps in a bid to improve the region’s dental health.
Technical studies are being carried out on how fluoridation of the Bristol Water area would be carried out and a public consultation is due to be launched next year.
Director of public health at NHS South Gloucestershire, Dr Chris Payne, said adding fluoride to our water would lead to major improvements in dental health.
“Fluoridation is safe and effective in reducing decay,” he said.
“The likely impact would be a 30 per cent reduction in the overall tooth decay in five to six-year-olds.
“There would also be an increase of 12 per cent in those with no problems with their teeth whatsoever.”
“The benefits would be most apparent in children but they would evident in adults as well.”
He said five areas in South Gloucestershire with ‘exceptionally high’ tooth decay rates in children would particularly benefit from the scheme.
They include central and west Yate, where almost half of all children show signs of tooth decay.
Added Dr Payne: “There are high dental decay rates in children aged between five and six in central and west Yate and in some of our poorer communities.
“Poor dental health is strongly associated with deprivation and poverty and there is also a strong association in some of our poor areas with the levels of childhood obesity and poor dental health.”
He said adding fluoride to the region’s water supply was expected to spark controversy with the public.
The PCT is awaiting a feasibility study on the project but members of the trust board said they were in favour of fluoridation.
Chairman Chris Clarke told a meeting of the board last Wednesday: “I can see no problem and it makes an awful lot of sense.”
Non-executive director David Hardwood said: “There must a lot of health benefits other than dental. I imagine fluoride helps with all sorts of things.
“I just can’t quite see why we have to go into such detail on fluoridation when companies already put all sorts of cocktails of chemicals in the water to purify it.”
Gillian Sinkinson (CORR), non-executive director, said: “Like a lot of the population, I thought fluoridation was already being done and had been for many years. In fact I am quite shocked it is not.”