WE note our Government wishes to take control of water fluoridation, and could mandate it for all, in an attempt to control tooth decay (Echo, Feb 9).

It is old technology, with unproven safety and it is mass medication, with dentists getting concerned about its ethics. One, writing recently on a dental site, said: “It is my opinion that in 1964 when the decision was made to fluoridate the water in Birmingham this would have met Childress’ Justificatory conditions, however I cannot see how the same decision could be considered ethically warranted if it were to be made today.”

He also expresses “unease” about “enforcing such a measure upon unwilling participants without enough evidence to show just cause”.

Fluoridation does not even work. In 1986, the US National Institute of Dental Research examined 39,207 children aged five to 17 in 84 areas. About one-third were fluoridated, one-third partially fluoridated and one-third non-fluoridated. Following a Freedom of Information request, the data was analysed by John A Yiamouyiannis Ph.D., and no statistically significant differences in tooth decay were found between any of the areas, though it declined in all, over 25 years, irrespective of fluoridation status.

Governments that continue with this futile (but headline-grabbing) intervention are literally pouring your tax-money down the drain.

An alternative to fluoridation is the good old-fashioned nursery and school dentist with health visitors engaging hard to reach families to teach them dental hygiene.

The Scottish Childsmile programme has been going for some years, and is proven to be more successful at preventing dental decay compared with water fluoridation.

Tooth decay in Scottish children is now about half of that of long-term fluoridated New Zealand.

A similar programme in Iceland reduced decay in 12-year-olds by 77 per cent in 10 years. Not one milligram of fluoride was ever ingested.

Alan Hall & Michael Watson, Darlington; Joy Warren, Joint Co-ordinator, UK Freedom from Fluoride, Coventry.