HULL’S water supply could be fluoridated under ambitious plans to reduce the number of children in the city with tooth decay.

More than 43 per cent of children aged five in Hull have fillings and tooth decay, one of the worst rates in the county.

Now, Hull’s Health and Wellbeing Board will consider a plan, which could cost £300,000 to introduce and £100,000 a year to run.

Chairman Colin Inglis and MP Alan Johnson have already met dentists to understand the benefits of the plan, which is likely to meet with resistance about the addition of chemicals to the communal water supply.

Last night, Mr Inglis said: “The evidence is incontrovertible. Adding fluoride to the water supply has major benefits to oral health and, while it may take some time, I am fully behind the proposal.

“It is a very good idea.”

The scheme, which is likely to require the support of East Riding Council, could take up to three years. While the £300,000 funding to install the equipment could come from central government, the council would need to find the £100,000 annual running costs, with the ring-fenced £22m public health budget likely to pick up the tab.

Fluoride, which is found in most toothpastes, helps protect teeth from decay by toughening the enamel. While the chemical is already present in drinking water, fluoridation increases the amount.

About 5.5 million people in the UK are already drinking fluoridated water and tests have shown dramatic benefits to oral health.

In Birmingham, the first major area to introduce water fluoridation 50 years ago, the number of children with tooth decay almost halved in the first six years.

Those against fluoridation claim it is linked to illnesses including bone cancer and hip fractures and increases staining on teeth. However, in March last year, Public Health England examined fluoridated areas for signs of harm and found none.

When the first major fluoridation scheme was introduced in Birmingham in 1964, many people complained the water “tasted funny” on the day fluoride was supposed to have been added.

However, it emerged a last-minute glitch had prevented the chemical being added and people were still drinking the same water they had been drinking for years.

Others protest fluoridation is an infringement of civil liberties, forcing medication on the masses through the public water supply.

Hull City Council will have to make a formal approach to East Riding Council.

The city council has to identify which areas are most in need of fluoridation and that survey would identify if other local authorities such as East Riding Council share the same water source.

Then, if East Riding Council agrees and with the help of Public Health England, the council has to find out if the plan is feasible. The public will have to be consulted and the scheme can only go ahead if it is approved by councillors on the relevant local authorities who represent more than 67 per cent of the population.

Four in 10 Hull children have tooth decay by age of 5

MORE than four in ten children have tooth decay in Hull by the age of five.

The Public Health England survey found 43.4 per cent of five- year-olds in the city have tooth decay compared with about 28 per cent nationally, almost 23 per cent in the East Riding and just over 21 per cent in the south east.

Almost 700 children had to have teeth taken out under general anaesthetic between October 2012 and December 2013. A further 21 children who were just two years old had decayed teeth extracted under general anaesthetic.

After Birmingham introduced water fluoridation in 1964, tooth extractions in children under 15 dropped from 35,000 a year to 9,000 by 1981. Tooth extraction under general anaesthetic for under-15s also fell from 18,000 per year to 2,000 in the same period.