A MOVE to introduce a mineral to the water supply in a town where more than a third of five-year-olds have one or more decayed, filled or missing teeth has been revealed.
Some 63 years after being invited to take part in a five-year trial to test the benefits of adding fluoride to the water supply, Darlington’s council looks set to be urged to do so by one of its committees.
When it rejected the scheme in 1955 members of Darlington Town Council said they feared they were making a mistake, but residents did not all want fluoride in their water.
Seven years later, the Ministry of Health published the study’s results, which found there had been “a substantial improvement in the teeth of young children” in the areas which agreed to the study and “no evidence of harm from fluoridation had been discovered”.
At a meeting of the council’s children and young people scrutiny committee members heard a proposal to introduce fluoride to the town’s water supply was being drawn up following a study which exposed stark differences between children’s oral health between areas where the mineral is or is not in drinking water.
Members were told children’s oral health was also closely linked to deprivation, but there were huge differences between the economically similar areas of Darlington and Hartlepool, where the latter has fluoride naturally in the water.
Councillor Anne-Marie Curry said fluoridated water was the least intrusive way of helping people look after their teeth.
She told the meeting: “There is still a feeling that there should be a choice. If they don’t want the fluoridated water we should suggest they filter it or drink bottled water.”
Last year, Dr John Furness, a consultant paediatrician based at Darlington Memorial Hospital, said despite weekly extraction clinics for youngsters in the region, councils were refusing to pay for the fluoride to water because of the cost involved.
Durham County Council has heard while 61 per cent of children were suffering decay in the Woodhouse Close area of Bishop Auckland, just six per cent were in the Chester-le-Street South division, where fluoride has been added to the water supply since the 1960s, at a cost of around £50,000 a year.
However, campaigners say there is no conclusive evidence about the benefits of adding the mineral to the water supply.
After being told about the possible move in Darlington, Professor of Health Policy at Kent University Stephen Peckham said schemes which had seen NHS staff support families were far more effective than fluoridation.
He added: “There are significant questions about its safety. It can interfere with the body and there are toxicological questions.”
*Original article online at http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/16162900.Tooth_decay_figures_spark_move_to_add_fluoride_to_water/