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Wednesday, 28 November, 2001, 10:14 GMT
Childhood tooth decay 'still rife'
Campaigners say fluoridation is good for teeth
Four out of five health authorities in the UK are not reaching government targets to reduce tooth decay among children, a national survey has revealed.

Campaigners have now called on the government to extend water fluoridation schemes in deprived areas across the country.


Young children in Manchester continue to suffer over three times as much tooth decay as children in Birmingham

Dr John Renshaw
The survey, carried out by the National Alliance for Equity in Dental Health, found that children's oral health was significantly better in areas with fluoridated water supplies.

But in areas where there is no water fluoridation - the North West of England, Northern Ireland, parts of Wales, parts of Scotland and inner London - rates of tooth decay are unacceptably high.

'Disappointing'

Government targets require that by 2003, five-year-olds should have no more than one decayed, filled or missing tooth.

Dr John Renshaw, chair of the British Dental Association's Executive Board, said: "We have a government who for over four years has apparently been committed to reducing health inequalities.

"It is very disappointing therefore that, for the want of a fluoridated water supply, young children in Manchester continue to suffer over three times as much tooth decay as children in Birmingham."

The Alliance, an umbrella group of 79 national medical, dental and voluntary organisations, claims that poor drafting of the Water (Fluoridation) Act 1985 has meant that decisions on water fluoridation have been taken out of the hands of health authorities and given to water companies.

The organisation wants to see legislation which would prevent water companies vetoing the implementation of water fluoridation.

Opponents to water fluoridation claim it can cause Alzheimer's and bone disease but the Alliance insists it is safe.

See also:

08 Oct 01 | Health
Soft drinks 'not bad for teeth'
22 May 01 | Health
Tea 'good for teeth'
01 May 01 | Health
Tooth decay link to passive smoke
26 Aug 01 | Health
Teeth that can heal themselves
22 Jul 00 | Health
Ethnic tooth decay 'decreasing'
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