HEALTH bosses have been praised for their decision to plough ahead with controversial plans to fluoridate Hampshire tap water.
Members of the British Association for the Study of Community Dentistry (BASCD) enthusiastically backed South Central Strategic Health Authority’s move to work towards adding fluoride to the water supplies delivered to nearly 200,000 people.
The organisation says it believes the scheme will reduce child tooth decay by up to half, as well as “significantly”
reducing the number of kids undergoing general anaesthetic to have surgery to remove extremely damaged teeth.
Members unanimously passed a motion at a conference in Sheffield offering their support for the SHA, which has begun work to move towards implementing fluoridation for Southampton, Eastleigh, Totton, Netley and Rownhams.
The project had been on hold until a High Court judge earlier this year rejected a judicial review bought by Southampton mum Gerri Milner, who argued the SHA should have listened to public opinion before approving it.
During a public consultation, 72 per cent of the 10,000 respondents said they opposed fluoridation.
Ms Milner is now appealing the judge’s decision to refuse permission for a review hearing studying whether the SHA properly took account of all the evidence sent to it during the consultation.
But a motion passed by the BASCD, which has long supported fluoridation, insists it is a “safe, effective and cost-effective approach” to reducing health inequalities.
Newly-elected BASCD president, Professor Peter Robinson , described the SHA’s move to work towards instructing Southern Water to add fluoride to supplies as “a very important step in tackling the oral health problems of current and future generations of children.”
He said: “In this day and age, it is wholly unacceptable that around 500 children a year from Southampton should have to undergo a general anaesthetic in hospital to have severely decayed teeth extracted.
“We can confidently anticipate that, several years after fluoridation has started in the city, this figure will have been significantly reduced.
“Four systematic reviews of the worldwide evidence on the benefits of water fluoridation published in the past ten years suggest that, in the area to be fluoridated in and around Southampton, the number of children’s teeth affected by decay will fall – probably by between about 30 per cent and 50 per cent – and there will also be long-term benefits for adults.”