Greater Glasgow's Oral Health Planning & Implementation Group had given strong support to the introduction of fluoride to Glasgow's water supply in a bid to combat high levels of poor oral and dental health.
The detailed raft of proposals to improve oral health over the next five years: "Healthy mouths matter in Greater Glasgow" was presented in draft form to today's Greater Glasgow NHS Board meeting. The new strategy has been proposed to update the former strategy for improving oral health that was adopted by the Board in 1997.
The Group, which has representation from Greater Glasgow NHS Board, Primary Care Dental Directorate, Area Dental Committee, Community Dental Service, Glasgow Dental Hospital and School and South operating divisions, state in their draft strategy: "We acknowledge that there is some opposition to water fluoridation but we believe that much of this opposition is based upon spurious claims relating to unsubstantiated effects of fluoride upon health."
The draft report adds: "Whilst we do not disagree that further research should be undertaken, we believe that the withholding of optimally fluoridated public water unnecessarily disadvantages Glasgow population. We encourage the Scottish Executive to facilitate the introduction of water fluoridation at the earliest possible time."
Board members heard that the report was still in draft form and would be finalised for consultation prior to returning to the Board in December.
The report highlights improvements in oral and dental health but points out that improvements are slow and the gap between oral health in deprived areas and more affluent areas was widening.
Access to dental services was an issue of concern too.
During discussion on fluoridation, Dr Harry Burns, Director of Public Health with NHS Greater Glasgow, said: "The decision to put fluoride in the water does not lie solely with this Board, but the opinion of the Public Health department is that the introduction of fluoride to our water to bring it up to the background levels of fluoride occurring naturally elsewhere in Scotland, would make a huge contribution to improving oral and dental health in Greater Glasgow.
"Improved oral and dental health has an impact on general health and the scientific arguments for fluoride are very powerful indeed. There are, however, ethical and moral issues about additives to drinking water and, clearly, the views of the public must be heard.
"However, we should remember that the water most of us drink already has chlorine added to it to protect public health. The addition of fluoride would also be in the interests of the public health of the people of Greater Glasgow."
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