MP Graham Allen is calling on Nottingham City Council to consider adding fluoride to the city’s water supply as part of efforts to improve the dental health of children.
The MP for Nottingham North wants the council, together with representatives from the city’s dental profession and NHS England, to meet with him to discuss the issue.
Mr Allen said that the condition of children’s teeth in his constituency is “Victorian and it is intolerable in a civilised society”.
He said: “It’s time for the warm words from public authorities to stop and the action to start.
“That action has to be regular dental checks for all children at primary school and fluoride in the water, which is naturally occurring in many places and is added in many cities throughout the UK with dramatic improvements in dental health.
“No child at the age of five should be put under anaesthetic to have surgery on their mouths as happens in many cases in Nottingham North.”
Latest Public Health England figures, published in May, show that 25 per cent of all five year olds have tooth decay – a 20 per cent drop since 2008.
A cost benefit analysis, published by Public Health England in October, shows that £12.71 will be returned on every £1 spend on water fluoridation after five years. The figure rises to £21.98 for every £1 spent after 10 years.
Mr Allen’s call comes as Hull City Council is considering the possibility of implementing water fluoridation.
Jimmy Palahey, a dentist and chair of the Nottinghamshire Local Dental Committee, agrees with the plan and said the committee will discuss the issue at a meeting Monday, January 16.
He said: “I think that the health benefits of fluoride within dentistry are pretty well documented.
“My own personal view is that it is a good idea. The health benefits are well known and have been well known for decades.
“Currently in more deprived areas, I think it would be a helping hand to mothers and fathers who are making sure their child’s oral health is to a high standard.”
Councillor Alex Norris, portfolio holder for adults and health at Nottingham City Council, said he would welcome the opportunity to discuss the issue further.
He said: “We already place an emphasis on the oral health of children in Nottingham through schemes like Brushing Buddies, which promotes the important of regular tooth-brushing.
“However, we are always interested to explore other areas where we might be able to make a positive difference.
“There is strong evidence that fluoride in water can improve the dental health of children. Of course, we need to make sure that we have carried out an assessment of current needs in Nottingham and any action would be subject to public consultation.”
Doug Cross, a scientist at UK Councils Against Fluoridation, said that fluoride is a medicine and that it should not be added to water.
He said: “It is a medicine. If it’s a medicine it has to be regulated.
“The big development is in Australia where they are taking the matter before the federal court arguing that it is a medicine and as such it’s illegal to put it in a water supply without consent.”
A spokesman for Severn Trent Water said it is for local councils to decide if fluoride is added to water supplies.