Fluoride Action Network

Why is Bristol having the most teeth out in the south west?

Source: Bristol Post | January 9th, 2017 | By L Churchill
Location: United Kingdom, England

New figures have revealed that Bristol is the worst place in the south west when it comes to needing teeth extractions.

Patients in the city are said to be having more teeth taken out by dentists than the rest of the south west.

According to dental provider, mydentist, patients at Filton Road in Bristol have had 12.5 extractions for every 100 patients over the past year.

That compares to the south west average of 10.67 and a UK average of 11.14.

In the past, the low levels of fluoride in the city’s water supply has been attributed to some of its dental problems.

But Steve Williams, clinical services director for mydentist, believes the problem is more to do with a surge of patients visiting dentists for the first time in five years or more.

He said: “You’re much less likely to lose your teeth if you visit the dentist regularly. Research proves common problems such as tooth decay could be prevented in 60 per cent of people if they made regular visits to their dental practice and maintained good oral hygiene.

“Because of this it’s vital that people have access to a dentist that can offer them appointments when they need it and first class care that prevents problems that, if untreated, could lead to tooth loss.”

Healthwatch England has recently criticised access to NHS dentists, stating that one in five surgeries in some areas are taking on new dentists.

What is Flouride?

Naturally occurring mineral, fluoride, is found at various levels in water across the UK.

According to the NHS it can help prevent tooth decay and many types of toothpaste contain fluoride.

But the practice of adding fluoride into water, as takes place in some areas of England, has proved controversial as too much of the mineral can cause other medical problems.

The NHS recommends using toothpaste with a 1350-1500ppm fluoride count as most effective for adults.

“Most water supplies contain some fluoride and in the early 20th century, levels of tooth decay were found to be associated with fluoride levels in drinking water,” the NHS website states.

“This led to the introduction of water fluoridation schemes to add fluoride to water supplies to improve dental health.

“Community water fluoridation schemes have operated for over 70 years; the first fluoridation scheme was introduced in the US in 1945. The first substantive UK scheme was established in Birmingham in 1964.

Around 5.8 million people in England receive fluoridated water. This means fluoride has been added to bring it up to around 1mg of fluoride per litre of water, which is a level found to reduce tooth decay levels.

“The decision about whether to add fluoride to the water supply is made by individual local authorities.”

Bristol Water does not add fluoride to its water.

On its website it states: “The water we supply naturally contains between 0.1 and 0.3 mg/l (parts per million) of fluoride, which is not removed during treatment.

“The maximum concentration of fluoride allowed in the water is 1.5 mg/l. There is no minimum limit.

“In the past, local health authorities could ask water companies to artificially fluoridate the water supply, but the companies could refuse.

“Legislation in 2008 gave the authorities the power to compel companies to fluoridate the water supply, after public consultation.

“Fluoride is a health issue. We believe that health professionals should make decisions about health measures, not water companies.”

Top Tips for a Healthy Mouth:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes with a fluoride toothpaste
  • Avoid sugary drinks and fruit juice, they attack and weaken the enamel on your teeth
  • Reduce the frequency of sugary snacks and drinks and if consuming, restrict to meal times
  • Have chewing gum after you’ve eaten to neutralise harmful acids in your mouth
  • Visit your dentist regularly to have your mouth and teeth checked before problems arise