Note: Embargoed until 00.01 am 17th November 2000
Headline: The increasing 'hidden' cost of water fluoridation in Wolverhampton.
Wolverhampton was fully fluoridated to the level of 1mg per litre of water in 1997. Prior to this date, only 32% of the population had received fluoridated water at the same concentration.
Despite the absence of fluoride in the district's water supply, the population has enjoyed improved dental health since the beginning of internet-based dental health survey records.
In 1985-6, 5-year-old children had 2.37 decayed, missing and filled teeth (dmft) but by 1997-8 the figure was 1.42.
12-year-old dmft has improved by 43% between 1988-9 and 1996-7 (1.58 down to 0.90 dmft).
14-year-old dmft has improved by 54% between 1990-1 and 1998-9 (2.10 down to 1.55 dmft).
Source: British Association for the Study of Community Dentistry.
Despite these gains, Wolverhampton became fully fluoridated in 1997. However, and this has been witnessed with other fluoridation schemes, the cost of dental health expenditure tends to increase dramatically. This is because the promoters of water fluoridation must make the practice look successful. And although it is still too early to judge the impact of fluoridation in the Wolverhampton district, it is obvious that the practice is being underpinned by changes in 'beneficial' dental practices which in turn have led to an increase in dental expenditure.
Furthermore, between the years October 1997-September 1998 and the year ending March 2000, there has been an improvement in dental health in under-18-year-olds of a mere 1.1% while expenditure has risen by 14%. This figure constitutes an increase in capitation fees by 10% and treatment claims (not covered by capitation) by 20.8%.
There is also evidence which suggests that the 28% increase in a specific group of treatments is attributable in part at least to the application of fissure sealants and topical fluoride treatments.
Water fluoridation is supposed to be cost effective but this is not the true story. One example of the ever-increasing cost of water fluoridation is Sandwell. This district was fluoridated in 1986 and yet expenditure has increased by 31.4% within the 18-month time scale used to calculate Wolverhampton's increase. By the quarter-year March 2000, Sandwell dentists were spending more per patient than some deprived inner-London communities.
Wolverhampton's expenditure figures:
Oct 97-Sep 98: £1,419,476.77
Apr 99-Mar 00: £1,618,858.69
An increase of: £199,381.92
Source: Dental Practice Board
NB. Costs are reported every 3 months. The above figures use 4 quarter totals which represent annual expenditure.
The salient points are:
Water fluoridation schemes are underpinned by large increases in NHS dental expenditure.
Changes in dental treatment policy can lead to significant reductions in tooth decay.
Once fluoridation has been established (for at least 5 years), it will be probably be declared successful - though this will be a deception tantamount to fraud.
END OF STATEMENT.