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Sunday, 22 September, 2002, 11:10 GMT 12:10 UK
Water fluoridation move mooted
Adding fluoride to water is backed by dentists
Adding fluoride is the subject of research
Parents, health workers and teachers are to be asked if they believe fluoride should be added to Scotland's drinking water.

The Scottish Executive consultation exercise will gauge whether the public believes fluoridation could improve Scotland's dental health record.

In some deprived areas of Scotland, some 60% of children suffer dental disease by the age of three.

Experts from the Medical Research Council have said more research is needed into fluoridation.

Child's teeth
Fluoride is used to improve dental health

Adding fluoride to water is backed by health and dental experts including the World Health Organisation.

The consultation will be launched on Tuesday by deputy health minister and Linlithgow MSP Mary Mulligan.

Executive ministers have been studying areas within the 10% of Britain where fluoride has already been added to the public water supply.

The effects have halved the level of child tooth decay but fluoride has also been linked to mottling of teeth, cancer, brittle bone disease and Alzheimer's.

'Neutral consultation'

Although fluoride has been shown to reduce dental cavities, it has also been linked with dental fluorosis, a condition relating to the appearance of teeth.

There have also been fears fluoride could be linked to other conditions, including cancer.

Fluoride occurs naturally in earth's crust, so it gets into rocks, and from there into the water supply in some areas of the world.

But there is still a debate over whether it should be artificially added to water supplies in the UK.

'Medical evidence'

A spokeswoman for the executive said: "We will issue a completely neutral consultation document on Tuesday to GPs, dentists, parents and teachers on children's oral health.

"It's part of a survey which will last until the end of the year but no decision has been taken yet, it will all depend on the outcome of the consultation."

However, Scottish National Party health spokeswoman Nicola Sturgeon said she was "very sceptical" about the use of fluoride.

She said: "There is medical evidence that fluoride benefits oral health but equally there are concerns about possible damage to health and I for one am very sceptical."

See also:

06 Oct 00 | Health
25 Jan 99 | Health
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