POLITICIANS from all parts of the spectrum lined up yesterday to fight the introduction of fluoride to the public water supply.
The Scottish Executive put the issue back on the agenda, triggering a debate that will dominate the preparation of its new strategy for combating tooth decay.
It is one of a range of suggestions offered for public consultation on ways of improving the appalling oral health of children.
They also include further measures on healthy eating and health education, and on ways of enhancing dental services and preventative treatments.
However, all of these will be overshadowed by the fluoride issue between now and the end of the year, when the consultation ends.
The document seeks the public’s views on alternative ways of using the chemical, including expanded toothbrushing in nurseries and schools, introducing fluoridated milk, or the use of fluoride drops or tablets – all of which can be targeted on a take-it-or-leave it basis – and fluoridation of public water supplies, which cannot.
Launching the consultation Mary Mulligan, the deputy health minister, said the executive remained neutral on the question of water fluoridation and wanted to hear people’s views.”
Measures such as the distribution of free toothpaste and toothbrushes to schoolchildren, nursery toothbrushing, health education programmes and preventive services would help establish good oral care from an early age, leading to improved oral health over time, “but much more needs to be done”, she said.
However, Robin Harper, Green MSP, said: “I abhor the idea of adding fluoride to drinking water – it’s mass-medication without choice.
“It’s a frightening abuse of the monopoly on water supply,” he added.