THE latest in a long line of moves to persuade the public to accept the addition of fluoride to drinking water will be kick- started this week with the launch of a “completely neutral” consultation process on oral health.
Two years ago, Susan Deacon, the-then health minister, announced the launch of a consultation period on the issue, but nothing came of it.
Mary Mulligan, the deputy health minister, tomorrow will launch what is described as a broader consultation into all aspects of oral and dental health, but it too will include the issue of fluoridation. The consultation will last until the end of the year.
Ministers have been studying areas within the 10% of Britain where fluoride has already been added to the public water supply. The effects have halved the level of child tooth decay but fluoride has also been linked to mottling of teeth, cancer, brittle bone disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
In the most deprived areas of Scotland, some 60% of children suffer from dental disease by the age of three, while across Scotland 250,000 teeth are extracted every year.
A spokeswoman for the Scottish Executive said: “We will issue a completely neutral consultation document on Tuesday to GPs, dentists, parents and teachers on children’s oral health.
“It is part of a survey which will last until the end of the year but no decision has been taken yet, it will all depend on the outcome of the consultation.”
Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP’s shadow health minister, said she was “very sceptical” about the use of fluoride. She said: “There is medical evidence that fluoride benefits oral health, but equally there are concerns about possible damage to health and I for one am very sceptical.”
Green politicians and Conservatives are also sceptical about what is seen as the dangerous concept of mass medication. Controversy has raged for years around the issue, which is fiercely opposed by environmentalists and some consumer groups, but supported as a way of improving dental health by most doctors and dentists.
Glasgow would already have fluoridated water if it were not for Catherine McColl, who waged a one-woman campaign after city councillors approved plans for flouride to be added to supplies by a single vote in 1978.
The “toothless granny” from the Gorbals became famous throughout Britain when she won her fight against fluoridating the Strathclyde region in the Court of Session in 1982.