A row over water fluoridation has erupted in East Yorkshire. Dental experts have accused local councillors of “peddling myths” and providing “alternative facts” to try and persuade people that water fluoridation is expensive and ineffective.
The British Dental Association has spoken out after Hull City Council’s councillor in charge of finance, Phil Webster, described fluoridation as “expensive, undemocratic and unproven.”
In response to the comments, the British Dental Association has accused the council of spreading inaccurate information and urged councillors to explore the possibility of introducing a scheme the body believes would prevent rates of decay from rising. Russ Ladwa, health and science chair at the BDA, said that there was a “clear scientific consensus” on the efficacy of water fluoridation, and suggested that if Hull “waves a white flag” this will set a precedent others will follow and represent a victory for “doom-mongers.”
Alan Johnson, former health secretary and Hull MP, has waded in on the debate, lending his support to dental organisations. Mr Johnson said that it was necessary to stop the “conspiracy theories” and support councils like Barnsley and Doncaster that are planning to start water fluoridation in the coming months. Mr Johnson said that scare-mongering can be incredibly harmful, and used the example of the MMR vaccine debate.
Research conducted by Public Health England suggests that councils could claw back an investment of £22 for every £1 spent on water fluoridation due to improved standards of oral health. Mr Johnson said that the scheme was a “no-brainer” and encouraged people to look at scientific evidence before making a decision.