Tuesday, February 05, 2008

A Healthy Smile?

Dentures in a glass of waterI thought this had died a death, but it’s back.

Health Secretary Alan Johnson has called for fluoride to be added to England's water supplies as a key means of tackling tooth decay. Reports the BBC. See here also.

But "Mr Johnson said he wanted public debate at a local level before any such measures are carried out." So let’s have one.

Besides the reality of negative health effects, this is an issue of medical ethics. Fluoridating water is essentially medicating people without their permission, and the European Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine distinctly states that individuals have the right not to be medicated without their consent.The root causes of poor dental health are poor diet and inadequate dental hygiene. Typically the government seems more concerned with knee-jerk action and to be seen to be 'doing something', rather than confronting the real causes of the problem.

Fluoride is a known poison if ingested over a long period of time, even in small daily doses. Its consumption has been linked to a range of medical afflictions including severe skeletal problems, fluorosis (discoloration of the teeth), osteosarcoma (a rare form of bone cancer) in boys, and problems affecting the central nervous system.

But, Bottled water is big business and makes a significant contribution to the illusion of "economic growth". Makes you wonder doesn’t it?


  1. My doctor friend maintains that too much fluoride may cause cardiac problems.

    The dentist who looked after my children's teeth when they were young said you are basically either born with good teeth or you ain't, so apart from not eating lots of sugar and keeping them clean, it's all down to your genes.

  2. Maternal nutrition while in the womb makes a big difference too.

  3. I know you are knowledgeable people: if you let tap water stand in a jug, does it allow the chlorine to evaporate?
    Also, would it not be more sensible, if fluoride is so valuable to children whilst their teeth develop, to offer a fluoride supplement, free of course.
    Regarding feeding the mother, my own mum was near starvation whilst having us in occupied France in the early forties.
    My sister born in 1945 has still a full set of strong teeth! My mum's teeth,however, paid the price.

  4. OK, no knowledgeable people are charging in here to respond, so will this do?

    Chemicals advisory told me that you can leave water to stand to dispel chlorine, but that the quantities we are exposed to are not prejudicial to health, and although Cl is toxic, it is not a cumulative poison.

    Believe that?

    It may also be worth aerating it afterwards by swooshing it back and forth from jug to jug, especially if making tea.

    Fluoride supplements surely they could be the best answer to the whole issue.

    Re diet and teeth ...

    It’s tough being a mum.

    Somewhat counter-intuitively, people growing up in Britain during WW2 have had, on average, better health than other generations, before and since, I gather (you jammy dodgers). This actually makes good sense, because compared to now, they didn’t get the excessive amounts of fat and sugar we eat nowadays, having a much simpler diet with plenty of starch and home-grown veg. (Dig for victory).

    Perhaps your sister was lucky, and/or perhaps your mum had a had a reasonable diet before the war, which could affect the outcome. Gene X Environment interactions are extremely complex (so I’m told!) and there is evidence around to indicate that we can be substantially affected by the long-term dietary environments, up till conception, of our parents and even grand-parents, for good or ill.


    "Dental health and nutrition for the expectant mother is important in that tooth development for your baby begins by approximately the sixth and eighth weeks of pregnancy and continues throughout pregnancy. Hardening of the baby teeth begins at four months.
    What you eat affects your baby's developing teeth. Slight deficiencies in your diet and dental health may cause changes in your baby's tooth formation that will leave a tooth at greater risk for decay later in life. At birth, your baby has all their primary teeth and many permanent teeth at different stages of development . During pregnancy good dental care and an adequate diet is necessary for optimal oral development of your baby and their teeth."


  5. No, I think jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none is the phrase, B21.

    Also, I have an advisory husband who rejoices in the soubriquet "Professor of Useless Information".