It seems ironic that in Third World countries where poorer populations have to fight tooth and nail for affordable healthcare and drugs here in the affluent West we debate whether or not to accept free medicine for ourselves and for our children.

Take the heated debate over the MMR jab, a reduction of children receiving this jab means that in some US states such as California measles is at risk of becoming an endemic disease once again.
The debate over adding fluoride to the public water system is another ‘hot potato’ for some.

Whilst the benefits are clear, the addition of fluoride to water can and does reduce cavities in children by as much as 50%, there is strong opposition to the idea of ‘mass medication’. This means that despite the obvious benefits, reduction in tooth decay, loss of teeth, gum disease and recession etc. There is a vocal lobby that not only doesn’t want fluoride added artificially they also want naturally occurring fluoride removed where it exists in the supply.

Sometimes it comes down to a matter of perceived risk.

In 1998 Dr Andrew Wakefield published a paper in the Lancet linking MMR with autism. Despite the Lancet retracting the article the idea caught fire. After all, what is more perilous than the welfare of our children?

Despite subsequent research from multiple sources showing there is no link the idea will not go away.

For anyone familiar with the conspiracy blog-o-sphere this will not be news. Frightening news is always difficult to allay once the genie is out of the bottle.

A similar, only more long standing problem faces those responsible for our dental welfare when it comes to fluoride.

The medical evidence is overwhelmingly in favour. The dangers are minimal and only applicable if children are given very high doses of fluoride which can result in a discolouration of the tooth enamel called fluorosis.

So hats off to Hull for taking the plunge, not only will your children’s teeth be in better repair the cash strapped NHS can look forward to future savings as well.

Header image: “Humber Bridge2”. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –