The newly appointed minister for health, Maria Caulfield MP, addressed delegates at the British Fluoridation Society (BFS) conference in Birmingham.
The event was held at the University of Birmingham’s new School of Dentistry and focused on ‘making a difference’.
In a welcome speech by video link, the minister anticipated a period of joint working between the Department of Health and Social Care and the BFS.
The health minister stated there has been significant improvement in oral health over the last forty years, however also acknowledged that substantial inequalities remain.
She said, “All tap water in England contains some fluoride, and that the benefits of water fluoridation are not dependent on changing personal behaviour, which therefore benefits those at risk – for whatever reason – most.”
The minister also said she was committed to working with people at the conference and across the dental sector going forward.
Lord Hunt (pictured), former minister of health, Labour peer and president of the BFS, officially opened the conference.
During the event, delegates also heard from a range of experts and key speakers, exploring how water fluoridation is entering a new era in its implementation to reduce dental inequalities. They included:
- Anna Ireland,national lead for Dental Public Health
- Eddie Crouch,chair of the Principal Executive Committee of the BDA
- Sandra White,clinical director, Association of Dental Groups
- Maria Morgan,president of the British Association for the Study of Community Dentistry (BASCD)
- Fiona Ellwood,executive director of the Society of British Dental Nurses
- Yewande Oduwole and VictoriaOjetunde, young dentists with an interest in social media.
A recurring theme was the importance of engaging with the wider dental profession and young people in particular, who favour the use of social media for news and information sharing.
The health minister also said that fluoridation opponents tend to make statements based on myths and rumours, not evidence, and we need to equip ourselves to deal with this.
BFS chair, Barry Cockcroft CBE, said, “It was great to hear the minister and a spokesman for the Labour Party both being positive about water fluoridation.
“The conference provided an important opportunity to bring the dental community together to explore how everyone that is committed to reducing dental health inequalities can work together to make water fluoridation happen. We need to push its relevance and make it part of the conversation for us all.
“It’s clear that to achieve this we need to make a difference by reducing dental health inequalities in our local communities by continuing to educate people on the important role that community water fluoridation schemes play in preventing tooth decay.”
During the conference, Yewande Oduwole and Victoria Ojutunde, both young dentists who have recently completed their foundation training, provided an insightful presentation about the impact of social media and how it can both help and hinder communication, especially for young people.
The BFS conference was CPD accredited and recorded. For those who could not attend, it will be available to watch on the BFS website soon.
For more information on the BFS, go to: https://bfsweb.org/.