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News / August 5, 2008

Water fluoridation fundamental to decay reduction

by Guy Hiscott

As reported by the Irish Times, without fluoridation Ireland would have levels of dental decay as high as those of eastern Europe, according to Professor Helen Whelton, director of the Oral Health Services Research Centre at UCC.

Prof. Whelton has said that although tooth decay in Ireland is much lower than it would be without a national fluoridation programme, it could be lower if children brushed their teeth twice daily.
She pointed out that while Ireland could be expected to be on a par with the UK in terms of dental hygiene levels, only about 58% of 15-year-olds in the Republic brush their teeth twice a day, compared to over 80% of their peers in the UK.

Prof. Whelton went on to comment: ‘Twenty years ago, tooth brushing in the UK was at the same level as our 15-year-olds are at today. There is certainly something in the culture that we are not addressing specifically.’

While stating that the risk of fluoridation comes from too much being taken in by children under the age of three years as teeth are being formed, Prof. Whelton also pointed out that severe fluorosis is not seen in people who have grown up in Ireland – where water fluoridation has been in place since the 1960s.