Fluoride in tap water damaged my teeth
by MARTYN HALLE, The Sun, 13th October, 2000.
THE debate over whether to fluoride in drinking water has dragged on for
Adding fluoride has been shown to help prevent tooth decay among children.
But parents and some experts claim the Government has no right to force such
"mass medication" on people, and say it causes the disease dental fluorosis,
which discolours kids' teeth.
Last week, a "definitive" review found that adding fluoride to water supplies
meant a 15 per cent fall in tooth decay and fillings for children. But the
research, by scientists at the University of York, also found a "strong
association" between taking extra fluoride and dental fluorosis.
It claims up to 48 per cent of children in fluoridated areas have fluorosis,
compared to 30 per cent in normal water areas.
At the moment just ten per cent of Britons have their water fluoridated,
manly in the Midlands and the North-East. One part of fluoride is added to one
million parts of water.
But the Government is considering forcing water
firms to add it to all supplies.
One person whose life has been blighted by fluorosis is Louisa Hendley,
17, who says she is usually too embarrassed to show her discoloured teeth.
They were marked with brown and white patches after being permanently
stained by fluorosis ten years ago.
Her home city, Birmingham, has had fluoride for the past 30 years.
Louisa, pictured left, and her parents believe this treatment caused her
She says: "I used to be teased in school and it has taken years to
develop self-confidence and cope with the damage done to my teeth."
The Hendleys oppose fluoride in water because it to already added to
toothpaste and occurs naturally in some foods.
Treatment to clean Louisa's discolouration has been partly successful but
involves a chemical process which itself damages the teeth. Food colourings
can make the teeth mottled again because fluorosis makes them porous.
Louisa's mum, Sara, says: "There has to be a better way of helping the
relatively small number of children with tooth decay. I'd rather see sugary
snacks and drinks banned from school canteens."