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House of Lords written question – answered on 27th February 2013.

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Photo of Earl Baldwin of Bewdley Earl Baldwin of Bewdley Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 16 January (WA 127) about the merits of policies to improve children's dental health, how, in weighing the balance of advantage in water fluoridation, they assess the potential impact on incentives to make healthy changes in personal behaviour.

Photo of Earl Howe Earl Howe The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

A combination of oral health promotion programmes and fluoridated water provide the best means of reducing tooth decay. Evidence that support and education alone may not achieve optimum results can be found from experience in Manchester. Here there has, over many years, been a range of programmes targeted at families with young children including the provision of free fluoride toothpaste, toothbrushes and trainer cups from the age of six months and supervised toothbrushing in nursery classes, children's centres and nurseries. Training in the key dental health messages has also been provided for a wide range of personnel who meet parents of young children and healthy food policies have been implemented in primary schools and their attached nurseries. However, the results of the NHS Dental Epidemiology Programme five year-old child dental health survey of 2007-08 show that children in the Manchester local authority area had an average of 2.39 decayed missing or filled teeth (dmft) compared to a figure of 1.35 dmft in Birmingham where the water is fluoridated.

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