Often, when water fluoridation appears in the headlines it is presented as a controversial subject. However, the evidence is clear that water fluoridation is a safe and effective measure to help people improve their oral health.
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found in water in varying amounts, depending on where in the UK you live.
It can help to prevent tooth decay, which is why it’s added to many brands of toothpaste and, in some areas, to the water supply through a process called fluoridation.
Among children aged one to four, child hospital admissions due to tooth decay are halved in fluoridated areas compared to non-fluoridated. It continues to be an effective intervention for local councils to consider in their efforts to reduce tooth decay.
There have been some concerns that fluoride may be linked to a variety of health conditions, however, reviews of the risks have so far found no convincing evidence to support these concerns.
One noticed risk is a condition called dental fluorosis, this can sometimes occur if a child’s teeth are exposed to too much fluoride when they’re developing. Mild dental fluorosis can be seen as very fine pearly white lines or flecking on the surface of the teeth. Severe fluorosis can cause the tooth’s enamel to become pitted or discoloured. It’s uncommon in the UK for fluorosis to be severe enough to seriously affect the appearance of teeth, this is because fluoride levels in water are carefully monitored.
Evidence has shown that the benefits of fluoride far outweigh the risks and that fluoride is proven to reduce the amount of dental-decay cases across the UK.