Fluoridation of the Isle of Man’s water supplies could be considered in response to a parliamentary scrutiny report on child oral health.
In January, a panel made seven recommendations on reducing tooth decay in children, which included offering a fluoride varnish to children under 11.
In its response, the Council of Ministers said fluoridation of the water could be more cost effective.
The council also said it would need more time to roll out any changes.
Currently, there are 3,014 people on a waiting list for an NHS dentist on the Isle of Man, 34% of whom are children.
Health Minister Lawrie Hooper said, while ministers were “broadly accepting” of the suggestions put forward by the Social Affairs Policy Review Committee, extra time would be needed so that any change was “sustainable”.
The committee had recommended fluoride varnishing be offered twice a year to all children, including those not registered with an NHS dentist.
But the council said the fluoridation of water could be a “more cost-effective” and “wider reaching” way of improving oral health, and proposed the public health directorate researched the extent that would reduce levels of tooth decay.
The committee also called for a supervised tooth-brushing programme to become compulsory in the island’s pre-schools and reception and Year 1 classes.
While the council agreed the opt-in Smile of Mann scheme should be relaunched in September, it said a 12-month review of its benefit should be carried out before it was made compulsory.
The review also called for an update on delivery times of the Oral Health Strategy 2021-26 before July, however ministers said it would need to be aligned with Dental Strategy 2020-2025, to create an overarching strategy, which could be done by October.
The report and its recommendations will be debated at the May sitting of Tynwald.