A Wartime Breakthrough for Children’s Oral Health

Posted & filed under Children's Oral Health, Children's Oral Health and Fluoride, Facts about Fluoride, Fluoride and Public Health.

Amid the fighting of World War II, an urgent need to relocate children in Great Britain led to a powerful discovery — one that helped to revolutionize public health and children’s oral health. In a recent newspaper article, British dentist Ray Lowry told this fascinating story.

Early in the war, children from North and South Tyneside, England, were evacuated to the Lake District to avoid the risk from Germany’s bombing of the region’s shipyards. Dentists in the Lake District soon noticed a major difference in the teeth of the children. Those from South Tyneside had much healthier teeth than those from North Tyneside.

An investigation revealed that “the water used from the wells south of the Tyne was naturally fluoridated (the wells were drilled into fluoride-rich rocks) whereas North Tyneside water was unfluoridated — it was mainly surface water.”

In the decades that followed, this discovery led several communities in Northeast England to start adding small quantities of fluoride to drinking water — “mimicking nature,” as Dr. Lowry puts it. Nonetheless, today only 10 percent of England’s population has access to fluoridated water.

Legislation enacted in 2022 opens the door to expanding fluoridation in North East England. This law will permit England to allow fluoridation in other areas where it is needed and rational to implement it, especially, Dr. Lowry writes, “where there is poor dental health, and where economies of scale exist.”

Although he no longer operates a dental practice, Dr. Lowry talks regularly with dentists in Northeast England. One of them recently shared his observations of the patients he sees.

“I work in a general dental practice in a northwestern area of the North East, which has an artificially adjusted fluoride level,” a dentist told Dr. Lowry. “The patients that I see every day have had the benefit of fluoride in their water supply. But I also work in urgent care across County Durham and in Sunderland, and I see the effects that not having fluoride and how that impacts populations in those areas.”

Then and now, children suffer needlessly from painful dental disease that is almost 100% preventable. Community water fluoridation is one of the most effective methods of providing prevention to entire communities. Thoroughly researched, it is practiced in many parts of the world, benefiting adults and children alike with every sip.