A thought for the future

Graphic that says "Sugar tax"

Okay, I know I ruffled a few feathers last year, by daring to suggest the issue of water fluoridation may not be as black and white as both sides would have you believe. By questioning this dogma, I actually found myself on the receiving end of personal attacks, which is a real shame. If the science is behind you, then why do you need to get nasty?

Anyway, thinking of the future as the rest of the world increasingly rejects fluoridation, there are two possible and highly effective strategies available to the Ministry of Health. The first is to copy the Child Smile Project, as championed in non-fluoridated Scotland. By targeting nurseries and primary schools, providing toothbrushes, toothpaste, OHI and diet advice, together with topical application of fluoride(rather than ingestion), they have been able to reduce dental decay by 20% in just eight years. I am fortunate to remain in contact with Professor Richard Welbury of Glasgow Dental School, and he is both enthusiastic and convinced of its efficacy.

The second is for us to pursue, as a profession, a sugar tax. We all know it- take sugar out of the equation, and decay rates will plummet. We have all seen the diabetic patient who sorts out his diet and stops needing fillings. It seems bizarre that someone like Katherine Rich can represent the National Government Health Promotion Agency and also the Food and Grocery Council, launching staunch defence of products such as Coca-Cola. Surely this equates to an incredible conflict of interest? If politicians were truly serious about improving oral health, and not supporting corporates, then a sugar tax would happen.

Make junk food more expensive. Take energy drinks out of schools. Children’s dental health is deteriorating. Fluoride’s effectiveness has reached a plateau. We need new ideas. We are increasingly questioned by a well informed client base, who deserve the best from our profession. Minds are like parachutes, they only work when open.

By Dr Laurence Fisher