- The fluoridation of water supplies benefits
elderly people as well as children, dentists have said.
- The British Dental Association has published
a report that shows putting fluoride in drinking water can have widespread
benefits for people as they get older.
- The BDA is calling on the government
to make a strong commitment to water fluoridation in the forthcoming white
paper on Public Health.
- Dentists want fluoridation extended to
cover 25% of the UK population.
- At present, 10% of people in the UK receive
fluoridated water supplies.
- The BDA report, Water fluoridation: Something
for older people to smile about, says most people are aware of the benefits
of fluoridation for children, but not of the benefits later in life.
- A form of tooth decay, root surface decay,
which is particularly difficult to treat can be a significant problem for
- Older adults often have less manual dexterity
and reduced saliva flow, the report says. This makes keeping teeth clean
- In addition their gums tend to recede,
causing the root surface of the teeth to become exposed and increasing
the risk of root surface decay.
- Although many older people are not aware
that they are at risk, the condition is often extensive, and can be difficult
to treat because when fillings are placed, more decay often develops at
the edge of the filling.
- The 1988 adult dental health survey showed
that more than nine out of t10 people over 45 had some root surface exposed.
Almost all over 65s were at risk of root surface decay.
- In fluoridated areas adults keep more
of their own teeth longer, and have much less trouble with them.
- Strengthening enamel
- Dentists used to think that fluoride
worked by being taken up and strengthening the developing enamel of children's
- However, it is now known that the effect
of fluoride on the surfaces of teeth after they have erupted into the mouth
is even more important, and that all ages stand to benefit from water flourdation.
- Chief Executive of the British Dental
Association, John Hunt, said: "Water fluoridation means less tooth
decay, less pain, fewer fillings and fewer emergency visits to the dentist,
and not just for children.
- "Tooth decay can be very painful,
and can make teeth unsightly. It is a preventable disease and is the main
cause of tooth loss in all age groups. Prevention means a better quality
of life for older adults and less money spent on dental care."
- The World Health Organisation, the Royal
College of Physicians and the Department of Health have endorsed water
fluoridation as safe.