Bradford children’s rotten teeth prompt calls for fluoridation
Shocking statistics about children’s oral health in Bradford have caused public health experts from Public Health England to issue fresh calls for water fluoridation.
The new figures suggest that three young children have teeth pulled out in hospital under general anaesthetic every week in Bradford. Official statistics show that 462 children under the age of five were admitted to hospital for dental treatment over a three-year period, or just under three children every week. The figures do not include extractions carried out in dental surgeries.
The children were being treated for dental caries, infections caused by eating too much sugary food and failing to maintain good oral hygiene. Most of them had rotten teeth pulled out.
Figures for the surrounding areas of Leeds were also worryingly high. The number of under-fives admitted to hospital with dental caries between 2009 and 2012 was 406 in Kirklees, 197 in Calderdale and 516 in Leeds itself.
In light of the news, Public Health England (PHE) has called for water fluoridation schemes to be considered in areas where decay is rife. The organisation says that the main cause of rotten teeth in very young children is deprivation, and the number of under-fives admitted to hospital is up to 45 % lower where water is fluoridated. Fluoride helps to strengthen teeth and reduce the risk of decay.
A PHE spokesman said: “Evidence suggests that fluoridating water is the single most effective step we can take to reduce tooth decay generally, both among children and adults, irrespective of personal behaviour.”
Meanwhile, a spokesman for Bradford Council said that it had not taken a stance on fluoridation, but did encourage parents to use fluoride varnish treatment on their children’s teeth.
Deborah Cochran, practice manager at Parkside Road Dental Care Unit in West Bowling, said: “We’ve had people come in here who barely know what a toothbrush is, and have never been to a dentist before in their lives.
“When you’re faced with that, it is a very difficult problem to combat. Adding fluoride to the water would definitely make a difference, but education is the key.”
What a dumb solution.
People don't know what a toothbrush is? Where have they come from?