.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

UK Against Fluoridation

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Be the first reader to comment on this story
11:40 - 17 March 2008
Health Secretary Alan Johnson has called for fluoride to be added to England's water supplies in the hope of reducing tooth decay among some of society's poorest and most vulnerable. Here, Dr Gillian Jones, the associate director of undergraduate studies at the Peninsula Dental School in Exeter and a consultant in dental public health for Peninsula Primary Care Trusts, backs the call

The fluoridation of water as a means to improve dental health in the community is not a new idea, but it stills raises an element of debate.The addition of fluoride to the water supply at appropriate levels is good for dental health - but it has to be implemented in a health-effective, resource effective and cost-effective manner.

Water fluoridation was introduced in the US in 1945, and in the UK and many other countries around the world in the mid-1950s. The impact of adding fluoride to water on tooth decay has been observed and analysed ever since, so as a community health measure it has decades of research and a wealth of experience in management and process behind it.

All water supplies contain fluoride naturally, and early studies of tooth decay in the US established that a natural concentration of one part fluoride per one million parts of water is associated with significantly lower levels of tooth decay.

In most places in the UK the natural fluoride level is too low to be of benefit to dental health, which is why fluoride levels are adjusted in the water supply in situations where this is environmentally and economically possible.

The benefits of added fluoride are well-documented. Severe tooth decay remains a problem among young children in disadvantaged communities. Tooth extraction in young children is usually performed under general anaesthetic - at a possible cost to the health of the child and a definite economic cost to the NHS. Clearly, a measure that reduces the amount of tooth decay not just in children, but also in the general population, would bring significant benefits to health and well-being and allow for better use of scarce NHS resources.

A number of studies have compared the cost of dental treatment needed by children in fluoridated and non-fluoridated communities. The research shows that the cost of dental treatment for a five-year old child in a non-fluoridated community is 61 per cent more than for a child of the same age in a fluoridated community. The upshot is that children in fluoridated communities experience fewer instances of toothache, have fewer dental abscesses and require fewer dental extractions and general anaesthetics.

While tooth decay levels have fallen across many communities since fluoridation, inequalities in dental health remain widespread and there is still a strong case for targeted fluoridation in parts of the UK, particularly those with higher deprivation and dental decay.

The evidence of the dental benefits and safety of water fluoridation has been reviewed by the University of York NHS Centre for Reviews and Dissemination. Its review included 26 studies representing the best available evidence of the effectiveness of water fluoridation.

The review found that water fluoridation reduces the number of decayed, missing and filled teeth by an average of just over two teeth per child. It also increases the percentage of children totally free from tooth decay by about 15 per cent, and that the reduction in the number of decayed, missing or filled teeth following fluoridation is greatest in communities where levels of tooth decay had been high at the beginning of the process.

Adults with their own teeth have much to gain from fluoride in toothpaste and from water fluoridation. In general, more adults are keeping more of their own teeth into old age, and studies have found that adults living in fluoridated communities keep more of their own teeth for longer, and have much less trouble with them than those in non-fluoridated communities.

Primary care trusts are working hard to improve the dental health of the population. Ways to reduce tooth decay are under constant review. While the adjustment of the naturally occurring levels of fluoride in water supplies would be of benefit to all, the technical feasibility of this is incredibly difficult in rural areas where there are a large number of water treatment works, boreholes and other water sources.

As a consequence, I believe the message to be: the fluoridation of water is one of the most effective ways to reduce tooth decay and improve dental health, but it is no substitute for taking good care of and responsibility for your own teeth.

As well as benefiting from water fluoridation where it is available, people should also clean their teeth regularly with fluoride toothpaste and fluoride gel, and if they can make use of professionally applied fluoride varnish. They should also make sure that they use effective brushing techniques (a member of the dental team or the dentist will be able to show them how), avoid the frequent intake of sugar, and visit the dentist.

That way, the dental health of the region can only improve.

Click on article headline to comment.


  • Fluoride spill in Louisiana, US

    Acid release in Braithwaite could have been 'catastrophic'

    A highly corrosive acid that leaked from a storage facility at a Braithwaite chemical plant on Monday could have eaten through adjacent storage tanks to cause a "catastrophic" mix of toxic chemicals, a state Department of Environmental Quality official said Tuesday.

    The disaster was averted by pumping the spilled material into the Mississippi River, where it quickly diluted to a safe level, said DEQ's Jeff Dauzat.

    At 9:24 a.m. Monday, workers at Stolthaven New Orleans LLC's transfer facility discovered that as much as 50 gallons a minute of fluorosilicic acid was leaking through a 16-inch-long crack in a welded seam in the storage tank.
    While the material was being held in a concrete containment area, the acid was eating through the concrete, Dauzat said, and threatened the other tanks within that area.

    "If we allowed that material to stay in the containment, it could have eaten through the other tanks, releasing other incompatible chemicals," he said. He didn't have a list of the other chemicals.

    The 23 percent solution of fluorosilicic acid being held at the Stolthaven transfer facility is mixed into drinking water at a parts per billion level, Dauzat said.

    Material safety data sheets providing hazard information about the acid indicate the dangerously corrosive material can irritate or burn the skin, eyes, lungs and other mucous membranes.

    Plant officials and emergency personnel responding to the leak wore respirators and protective clothing.

    While residential areas are just north of the plant and to the west, across the Mississippi, Dauzat said air sampling outside the plant "showed no cause for alarm. There were no hits for toxicity."

    Workers pumped 468,740 gallons of fluorosilicic acid into the Mississippi River on Monday after the leak was discovered, leaving 129,882 gallons in the tank below the level of the cracked seam, he said.

    Plaquemines Parish water officials were notified of the release, and testing at their water intake facilities showed only background levels of fluoride, Dauzat said.
    Chemical monitoring of the river by a clean-up contractor hired by Stolthaven found the acid had diluted to parts per million levels within a few miles, he said.
    "The river is able to handle a lot of the abuse we give it because of its flow and the amount of water it has," said Dauzat. "It's unfortunate it had to happen, but it saved us a potentially catastrophic loss."

    The Mississippi is at springtime high levels, and moving at about 4 knots per hour, which speeded the mixing process, he said.

    After the release, the Coast Guard also established a security zone from 7 p.m. to 12 a.m. Monday, barring any vessels from navigating on waters in the contaminated area
    The Coast Guard also is reviewing the circumstances of the chemical spill and said that it "could lead to enforcement actions."

    "We can't discuss the details of any legal action until the case is closed," said Petty Officer Tom Atkeson, a spokesman for the Coast Guard.

    Dauzat said state officials will look into whether the acid was being held in an incompatible tank, and whether it should have been held within the same containment area as tanks holding the other, incompatible chemicals.
    That investigation "will take several days to a couple of weeks, depending on the cooperation of the industry," he said.

    Dauzat said a DEQ team had just inspected the facility for compliance with water disposal permits a few weeks ago and found no problems.


    By Blogger nyscof, at 19 March, 2008  

Post a Comment

<< Home