The Government’s most senior dental advisor said there was not a shred of evidence to support claims that putting fluoride in water supplies is hazardous to health as he visited Bradford yesterday to officially open a new NHS dental practice.
Chief dental officer Barry Cockcroft spoke out in favour of fluoridation as he toured the new dentistry@BD4 practice in Holme Lane, off Tong Street and met practice staff, patients and representatives from NHS Bradford and Airedale.
He said it had been a tough few years for dentistry and praised local health chiefs and dentists for their hard work to continue to improve access to NHS dentistry in Bradford and Airedale.
“I hope the local community really value the services being provided here,” he said. “This place is a credit to everyone involved and a huge asset.”
Mr Cockcroft toured the new facility with Simon Morritt, chief executive of NHS Bradford and Airedale who recently asked Yorkshire and Humber Strategic Health Authority to carry out a feasibility study into whether it would be possible to fluoridate local drinking supplies in a bid to improve oral health.
The chief dental officer said having lived and worked as a dentist in Rugby in the West Midlands, where the water is fluoridated, he knew the benefits it brings.
As well as improving oral health in children, he said fluoridating water supplies was hugely beneficial to the elderly, who were increasingly keeping their own teeth into old age.
“Opponents to fluoride are very well organised at what they do and there are a lot of myths about fluoride,” he said.
“In America, one of the most litigious countries in the world, 200 million people drink fluoridated water and there is no evidence it does harm. If it did their lawyers would be all over it.
“Everyone agrees it reduces tooth decay and the people who benefit most are those with the greatest needs. Tooth decay is a disease of deprivation and Bradford has some of the country’s highest levels of decay.”
The practice is the second of three new NHS centres to open in the district as part of a major investment programme. A third is planned to open in Ilkley later this year and there is a proposal for a new practice in the city centre or Manningham and an access centre to enable patients who do not wish to receive regular care to access check ups and treatment at short notice.
The aim is to ensure everyone in Bradford and Airedale who wants access to an NHS dentist can have it by 2011 and reduce health inequalities in the district.