It could cost up to £2 million, plus £100,000 for operating costs, to add fluoride to drinking water in the island.

In this week’s Tynwald sitting, chair of the Manx Utilities Authority Tim Crookall was asked how much the equipment, materials and monitoring would be to undertake the project.

He explained that Manx Utilities has not received any formal briefing papers relating to the matter.

However, officers have been contacted recently to assist Public Health to input into their report, which is being prepared for the social policy board.

He said: ‘As such, Manx Utilities has not undertaken any detailed cost evaluations of work necessary to add fluoride to drinking water.

‘I can advise it is likely that extensions to current buildings or dedicated new buildings would be needed.

‘On a very high level basis, Manx Utilities would suggest that a budget of up to £2m could be required to deliver this capital project and up to £100,000 for operating costs.’

Cabinet Office Minister, Kate Lord-Brennan, was also asked in the sitting how many staff in the Public Health Directorate have been working on delivering improved oral health in children in the past two years.

Ms Lord-Brennan said: ‘The current number of staff in the Public Health directorate is 24, with the full time equivalent of 21.6.

‘In terms of delivery, government responsibility for the delivery of oral healthcare rests with Manx Care.

‘Public Health’s role is to provide leadership and guidance about population level oral health.

‘This includes promotion of good dental health and the surveillance of oral health.

‘The amount of staff time spent in oral health for children varies from week to week.

‘At times, there’s been one full-time person working on this, however, Public Health estimates that around 0.2% full-time equivalent staff have been working on oral health over the last two years.’

Garff MHK Daphne Caine felt this didn’t ‘amount to an awful lot of time’. 
She asked if there should have been greater promotion by the team within Public Health.

The minister said: ‘I think the work the committee has brought forward has brought more focus to this. There is an opportunity to focus on promotion.’