Pupils should be given lessons on how to brush their teeth rather than having fluoride added to their school milk, the leader of Blackpool’s Tories claimed today.
Coun Tony Williams says conflicting views about the side effects of fluoride means alternative ways of improving dental health among the town’s youngsters should be looked at first.
Blackpool’s Health and Wellbeing Board agreed last week to consult with schools with a view to introducing dental milk, which includes fluoride, for primary school age children. The dental health of youngsters in the town is among the worst in the country, with more than one in three five-year-olds having at least one unhealthy tooth, according to official figures.
But Coun Williams said: “It would seem there are conflicting views on fluoride.
“Blackpool Council director of health Dr Arif Rajpur has stated he believes there are no issues with fluoride and I take comfort in that, however other expert opinions differ.
“Recently, the Government commissioned a review of the scientific literature on this subject. The study concluded the rationale behind fluoridation is based on weak scientific evidence.
“A much better idea would be to spend the money this will cost on preventive dentistry and tooth care education, including supervised brushing in school.
“The argument for and against fluoride seems to be a 50–50 debate, however I do think parents should be involved and make the decision as to what they feel is the best option for their own children.”
Coun Ivan Taylor, chairman of the Blackpool Health and Wellbeing Board, said the council would consult with schools and parents could opt out of allowing their children to have dental milk.
He added: “Fluoride is no substitute for good dental care and we already have an oral health team delivering dental health advice in our schools.
“That is happening already, but introducing fluoride is an important step. There would be an opportunity for parents to opt out but I hope they won’t.”
The council already provides free milk as part of the school breakfast scheme, so does not expect introducing dental milk to add significantly to the cost.