HEALTH bosses are considering whether to ask for plans to be drawn up which could lead to fluoride being added to water supplies in more parts of Cumbria.
Already around 130,000 people in West Cumbria receive fluoridated water.
Changes to the Water Act in 2003 have given Primary Care Trusts the chance to consider water fluoridation as a means of reducing tooth decay.
NHS Northwest is asking the county’s primary trust, NHS Cumbria, if it wants detailed plans to be explored which would see more parts of the county covered.
The decision whether or not to extend water fluoridation would be taken by NHS North West. Such a move would only happen following a widespread public consultation.
However there is a strong campaign against fluoridation.
Fluoride can be harmful to teeth, opposition say, especially for children, causing dental fluorosis, an ugly brown staining. Fluoride is also believed by many to be the cause of other health issues, including thyroid-related problems.
The trust’s executive committee of leading clinicians believes such a move on fluoridation could improve public health and were expected to approve the idea be explored.
Eric Rooney a Consultant in Dental Public Health at NHS Cumbria said that children in the North West had some of the worst dental health in England.
“Water fluoridation is one possible intervention to improve dental health and we already have fluoridation schemes in the West Cumbria area,” he said. “Any eventual scheme for Cumbria would be subject to a public consultation by NHS Northwest.”
Dr John Ashton, Cumbria’s Director of Public Health, said: “The vast majority of doctors and dentists in the UK, endorse the fluoridation of drinking water as a safe way to improve dental health.”