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Dublin: 10 °C Thursday 4 June, 2020

Irish dentists say your kids' teeth will decay if we remove fluoride from water

A meeting yesterday heard that dental surgeries are “brimming with children under seven who are already showing signs of irreparable tooth decay

Image: Niall Carson/PA

DENTISTS HAVE WARNED that removing fluoride from drinking water could have serious consequences for the dental health of Irish children.

At a meeting of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) yesterday, Dean of the Faculty of Dentistry Dr John Walsh said all of the robust scientific data demonstrates that fluoridation protects against tooth decay.

“Studies of children’s oral health consistently showed that those living in areas with fluoridated water had 18% less tooth decay than those living in non-fluoridated areas,” he said.

To ignore this evidence is taking a big health risk.

The meeting heard that the potential effect of any decision by a local authority to remove fluoridation from public water systems would significantly increase the risk of tooth decay among children in Ireland.

Opposition to fluoride

In the last year, both Dublin City Council and Cork County Council have voted to end fluoridation of public water.

A high-profile campaign, organised by The Girl Against Fluoride, has also gained traction over the last couple of years. Organiser Aisling Fitzgibon has called for an end to the policy of mandatory water fluoridation, claiming it is harmful to public health.

Her group is taking legal action against the Irish government as it claims citizens have been “stripped of our rights not to be drugged against our will with unlicensed, untested chemicals”.

However 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 drink and treats”. He said evidence shows that this situation would worsen if drinking water was not fluoridated.

Constant review

The Department of Health told that it keeps the policy on water fluoridation under constant review. It said local authorities, acting on behalf of Irish Water, act as agents for the HSE in providing, installing and maintaining equipment for fluoridation and in adding the fluoride to water and testing the fluoride content of water to which fluoride has been added.

“As part of this ongoing work, a review of evidence on the impact of water fluoridation at its current level on the health of the population is being conducted by the Health Research Board on behalf of the Department,” it said. “This review is due to be completed by the end of the year.”

Read: The naked truth? Anti-fluoride protesters strip off to demand ‘safe’ water>

Opinion: Water fluoridation is controversial, but trust evidence over scaremongering>

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