The recent High Court ruling in the UK stating that the South Central Strategic Health Authority (SCSHA) had not acted illegally when deciding to fluoridate the water supply in the surrounding region could open the floodgates for other regions to make their move towards improving oral health.
Health authorities in Manchester have been considering a similar move, but were concerned that a ruling against the South Central Strategic Health Authority (SCSHA) would make their fluoridation plans illegal.
Now, the British Dental Association is hopeful that more areas in the UK will add fluoride to the drinking water, as an effective weapon against tooth decay.
On Friday Mr Justice Holman gave a decision in favour of the health authority, and against local resident Geraldine Milner, saying that “our democratic Parliament decided long ago that water can, in certain circumstances, be fluoridated”.
He added: “This SHA have not acted unlawfully and no court can interfere with their decision.”
Prof Damien Walmsley, the BDA’s scientific adviser, said: “It is likely to encourage consultation on similar schemes in other parts of the country where fluoride could help address the poor dental health of the population.”
He added: “A recent European summary of the latest scientific evidence reiterated the view that water fluoridation is a safe and effective method of reducing oral health inequalities.”
Currently only 10% of the UK population has fluoride in its water supply; around 5.5 million people across the country, including most of Birmingham and parts of Newcastle.
The last previous legal battle over fluoride was in 1998 when North Tyneside health authority was unsuccessful in its High Court attempt to force Northumbrian Water to expand its fluoridation programme to the rest of the area.
Health authorities that are backing the use of fluoride can now go ahead with the process, safe in the knowledge that the law will back them.
Prof Walmsley added; “This is an important decision. Other authorities are all prepared to go forward but have been waiting to see how this one turns out.”