Thank you for contacting me about water fluoridation schemes in England. I appreciate there are strongly held views on both sides of this issue.
As you know the fluoridation of water is the process of artificially adjusting the natural fluoride content of drinking water to tackle the incidence of tooth decay and reduce health inequalities.
Currently, it is estimated that 5.8 million people in England receive fluoridated water. This means fluoride has been added to bring it up to around 1mg of fluoride per litre of water, which is a level found to reduce tooth decay.
It is important to note that the safety and efficacy of fluoridation has always been under constant review since it was first proposed. Recent reviews of the scientific evidence published by authoritative bodies in England fully agree that fluoridated water offers significant dental health benefits. This view is supported by the British Dental Association, the Oral Health Foundation, the British Medical Association, and the World Health Organization.
While tooth decay can also be prevented or minimised by adherence to a healthy diet and by regular toothbrushing and engaging with dental services, the reality is that its prevalence remains higher among the most disadvantaged.
In September 2021, the four UK Chief Medical Officers published an independent report citing strong scientific evidence in support of water fluoridation schemes as an effective public health intervention. It found no credible scientific evidence that the levels of fluoride used in English schemes are harmful to health.
As you know, the Health and Care Bill will give powers to the Health Secretary to directly introduce, vary or terminate water fluoridation schemes across England. This responsibility currently lies with local authorities, who have reported difficulties with the current process. The Government said consultation with local populations will take place before any new water fluoridation schemes are introduced.
Based on the existing evidence the benefits are clearly overwhelming. However, as with all policies that will impact the health of my community I will be following developments in this area closely.