The first water supplies to be fluoridated were in the USA over 50 years ago.
The experiment then spread to New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Ireland and the UK.
Fluoride can act, in a complex way, to reduce the acid that causes tooth decay.
Anti-fluoride campaigners claim it can cause cancer, osteoporosis, organ and genetic damage.
Within the EU around 12.1 million people are currently supplied with water whose natural fluoride content has been artificially adjusted up to the optimum level.
In the UK, fluoridated water is supplied to around 5.5 million people.
The most extensively fluoridated region in the UK is the West Midlands.
In the Republic of Ireland, 67% of drinking water is fluoridated.
Across the country, there have been heated debates for years about the compulsory fluoridation of water supplies.
Some say that there is good evidence that fluoride helps to prevent tooth decay strengthening teeth, particularly when they are forming, and makes the enamel more resistant to harmful acids.
But others insist that the enforced introduction of fluoride to water supplies can not only lead to bones becoming brittle and cause damage to internal organs, but also breach fundamental human rights…
To fluoridate or not to fluoridate... where do you stand on the debate?
|There's no getting away from fluoridated water|
In a recent public debate in Sunderland, persuasive points, from both sides of the argument, were delivered by Dr David Evans (Consultant in Dental Health), who is in favour of fluoridation and Bill Etherington MP, who is against artificial fluoridation.
But your opinion is valued in determining any future action on the treatment of drinking water in the region.
Councillor Norma Wright, Chairman of the Health & Well-Being Review Committee said, "Public opinion will be hugely important when it comes to helping the Strategic Health Authority make their final decision, which they can only reach after a huge public consultation exercise."
The Have Your Say section has closed. Here is a selection of your comments:
Fluoride is a toxic poison. Only a mad man would add this to the water supply and medicate the population. It is against human rights legislation and is not used in Europe.
As someone who suffers terribly with unexplained hypothyroidism, perhaps as a result of ingesting fluoride unwillingly through the local water system, I am very unhappy that it should be forced on us simply to prevent a few childhood teeth cavities.
The reason why the goverment puts alot of missleading information about fluoridation is because flouride is mass produced and a non-biodegradable toxic substance, the only way they can get rid of it is by treating the water with this stuff, also this is nothing more then a way of them using chemical testing not on animals but on us Men, Women and babies.
Science Class Yr 8 and 9.
People should buy their own flouride instead of polluting our natural water with this powerful substance. The public should be informed that this substance is in their water, because many of people are unaware of this. People need to be educated and take responsibility for their own health in this issue.
Fluoride is good for you and can help you get stronger teeth all this talk about cancer is a lie there all lies i tell you lies!!!! I promise you fluoride if very good for the only way that this could be bad is when the fluoride levels in the water are above a certain percent and of my proffesional knowlede i dont know of any case that fluoride is to high of a lvl
A number of the comments above in favour of fluoridation seem to think that anti-fluoridationists do not think that dental caries are a problem. Nobody is arguing that rotten teeth are OK. However, I would urge people to look at the current evidence (not the hype and propaganda) of fluoridation and see for themselves that it is NOT affective when added to water. If caries are such a bad thing, what about dental fluorosis - it weakens the teeth and looks awful!
It it something that the dental health of all will benefit from
This debate is gone on for far to long. Anyone aware of the suffering caused by dental decay in children and the additional risks from general anaesthetics would agree with water fluoridation. The population as a whole would benefit in the long run. The saving in cost to the NHS would also be a significant side benefit allow additional finance for other areas.
An inexpensive and safe way of reducing tooth decay
Fluoridation is absolutely essential if we are to improve the depressing state of our population's teeth. Arguments such as "mass medication" do not stand up to scrutiny - would the "moaning minnies" be happy if all the other additives presently in our water to make it safe to drink were not there?
I just wish that water supplies in England would be fluoridated as soon as possible. One has only to look at the dramatic decline in tooth decay in children resident in southern Ireland where fluoridation of public water supplies has been mandatory since the early 1960s. Having worked as a paediatric dentist in areas with and without fluoride in the water supply, I believe that water fluoridation is still the most effective way of preventing tooth decay, especially in children of low-socioeconomic status.
Say no to mass medication! Why can't you just use fluoride toothpast instead? Are the bottled water companies in on this too? Think on as well - for some people, it wouldn't make any difference unless you put flouride in their fizzy drinks (drink water? - it is tasteless and contains no sugar!)
The kids with tooth decay never have their say. They are the silenced victims of poverty and social inequality. I bet those against Fluoride haven't got children who needed teeth out under gas!
In many parts of the UK more than 50% of 5 year old children have dental decay. Fluoridation of public water supplies would considerably reduce dental decay in both adults and children. I am therefore in support of water fluoridation.
After browsing the comments it appears the majority of folk are against flouride being added to the water supply. In a perfect world the people responsible for adding it would bow to public opinion and remove it immediately. So I now ask myself the question why do they not? The main argument against seems to be that it stops the suffering of kids with teeth disease. I refuse to accept diet and regular brushing of the teeth would not prevent this alone. I noticed a post where it was claimed 14 winners of the nobel prize object to flouridation. Has anyone involved with adding flouride to water won a Nobel prize? Even if flouride was removed from the water supply I would not condiser filling my glass from the tap, I would still drink bottled water. I simply do not trust the Government.
I am a dentist who used to live in a fluoridated area (Birmingham) where dental health had improved dramatically since the level of fluoride was adjusted to the right level for dental health. I now work in an area which does not have fluoridation (Yorkshire). When I moved I was astounded at the poor state of children's teeth in this area. We desperately need the benefits of water fluoridation in Yorkshire. Why should our children suffer the levels of toothache which Birmingham children were relieved of years ago? It is a human rights issue - the rights of children and adults to good dental health.
Fourteen Nobel Prize winners object to fluoridation. The latest is Dr. Avid Carlsson, Nobel Prize in Medicine, Oct 2000, for his work on the brain. He also played a very prominent role in banning fluoridation in Sweden. The 13 other Nobel Prizes winners who oppose fluoridation were in Chemistry, or Medicine. The leaders of 11 unions representing 7000 employees of the US Environmental Protection Agency wrote letters to Congress asking for a legislated moratorium on water fluoridation programs in the USA. Many medical studies show fluoride to be a risk. According to the current consensus view of the dental community, fluoride's primary - if not sole - benefit to teeth comes from topical application to the surfaces of teeth (while in the mouth), and not from ingestion.
Wow - it never ceases to amaze me quite how vehemently people are opposed to water fluoridation. I wonder what these people do if they live in areas where the water is naturally fluoridated - do you all buy flouride-free bottled water? If you had seen the utterly appaling sight of extremely small children undergoing general anaesthesia to have teeth removed you may just change your mind.
Why don't we ask the rest of the dentists in this country how they would vote. My guess is with an overwhelmimng YES.
Colwyn Jones, Dentist
Water fluoridation is simply adjusting the natural level of fluoride to one which will reduce tooth decay with the pain, misery, disfigurement and embarrassment it causes for many adults and children. This was discovered as it happens naturally in many places and fluoridation is just copying what nature already provides. There are over 300 million people benefiting from water fluoridation in the World and the sooner this safe and effective public health measure is intorduced the better for every generation of children.