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CMOs back water fluoridation

Upfront investment is needed, as all four UK Chief Medical Officers highlight the benefits of water fluoridation in reducing tooth decay.

The Health and Care Bill, currently before Parliament, is set to simplify the rollout community water fluoridation in England. Community water fluoridation is a safe and effective public health intervention that should be part of a package of measures to improve dental health where it is technically feasible and appropriate for local needs.

The CMOs have emphasised that water fluoridation should be seen as a complementary strategy, not a substitute for regular dental check-ups. We support this joined-up approach in which tried and tested policies like water fluoridation and supervised tooth brushing in early years settings are expanded, with parallel effort applied to rebuilding high street dental services.

Around 5.8 million people in England already receive fluoridated water, the lion's share artificially added, but in some locations the appropriate level exists naturally within local water supplies.

Public Health England modelling shows water fluoridation more than pays for itself in the medium term, owing to a reduction in treatment need. £1 spent equates to £12.71 savings in five years, rising to £21.98 over ten years. We have stressed that upfront investment by Government is vital to unlocking these benefits.

Our Chair Eddie Crouch said: "Every dentist will thank the CMOs for recognising the lasting benefits water fluoridation could bring to the nation's oral health. However, these gains are purely theoretical without upfront investment. Spending here will pay for itself, and Ministers need to show they are willing to seize the moment."

Statement on water fluoridation from the UK Chief Medical Officers