Authorities are taking a big health risk if they remove fluoride from the public water system, a top dentist has warned.
Dean of the faculty of dentistry at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Dr John Walsh said children living in areas with fluoridated water had 18% less tooth decay than those living in non-fluoridated area.
“All of the robust scientific data demonstrates that fluoridation protects against tooth decay. Studies of children’s oral health consistently showed those living in areas with fluoridated water had 18% less tooth decay than those living in non-fluoridated areas. To ignore this evidence is taking a big health risk,” he said.
Ireland is the only EU country, and one of only two in the world, with a national mandatory public water fluoridation policy.
Councils in Dublin and Cork have already called for a fluoride ban in public water supplies over fears it may pose a health risk.
Earlier this week, Cork City Council passed a motion calling for the immediate cessation of public water fluoridation in Ireland.
At the opening of an international scientific forum hosted by the college, Dr Walsh said Irish dental surgeries are “brimming” with children under seven who are already showing signs of irreparable tooth decay from over-consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks and treats and that fluoridation helps mitigate against this.
“Dental decay is a huge challenge worldwide, all of the evidence available to date demonstrates that fluoridation is helping to reduce the levels of this decay, however we also need to enhance awareness and education programmes in our schools, if we are to win the war against sugar.
“Many Irish primary schools have introduced ‘healthy eating policies’ and this is a positive step and to be welcomed. If parents can replicate this behaviour in the home and dispense with daily treats we would see positive results,” he said.
The Irish Dental Association has acknowledged that fluoride in water is a contentious issue but has pointed to evidence of it being the most practical, cost-effective and safe public health measure to control tooth decay.
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland has also stated that fluoride concentrations in public drinking water pose no known medical problems.
A Health Research Board review of the international evidence on fluoridation of water was announced last March and is expected to be completed by Christmas.
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