UK’s paediatric dentists welcome CMO’s statement in support of water fluoridation

21 October 2021
1 min read

A landmark statement from the UK’s four chief medical officers in support of water fluoridation has contributed to the growing momentum in favour of this most cost-effective of measures to reduce dental decay.

In response to the CMO’s statement, the British Society of Paediatric Dentistry (BSPD) has updated its position statement to incorporate their key comments. Also welcome is the ensuing statement from the chief dental officer for England, Sara Hurley. She said that the CMOs’ statement was “welcome endorsement of water fluoridation’s health benefits and safety” from the UK’s most senior doctors.

The BSPD’s position statement was first published in 2014 and updated in 2019 – and then again in October 2021. Each iteration has been the work of the eminent international authority on water fluoridation, emeritus professor Andrew Rugg-Gunn.

The need to address health inequalities underpins the Commissioning Standard for Dental Specialties: Paediatric Dentistry and is an explicit campaigning commitment in the BSPD’s mission statement.

Many surveys have revealed that it is children in the most deprived areas who benefit most from water fluoridation; for instance, Public Health England’s 2018 report showed that dental decay is reduced by 52 per cent in children living in the most deprived areas, compared with 23 per cent for children in the least deprived areas.

The BSPD is calling for water fluoridation to be implemented in more deprived areas of the UK to reduce oral health inequalities.

Professor Claire Stevens, spokesperson for BSPD, said that in addition to reducing the prevalence and severity of the dental decay among children in the most deprived areas, community water fluoridation reduces hospital admissions of young children requiring tooth extraction under general anaesthetic – by up to 68 per cent.

She added, “Dental decay is costly for the NHS, with £54.6 million spent on hospital-based tooth extractions for children and adolescents in 2019. This financial burden can be reduced by implementing preventive measures, including community water fluoridation. Dental decay is almost always preventable, but we need urgent investment in evidence-based preventive interventions if we wish to see a reduced demand on stretched secondary care services.”