A vote on research for the impact of fluoridation of water in the island on tooth decay has been deferred until next month.
A review of children’s oral health was released by the Social Affairs Policy Review Committee in its first report for the 2022-23 session.
The committee made 11 recommendations as part of this to reduce tooth decay, including offering all pre- and primary school age children twice weekly fluoride varnishing.
It came after the Oral Health Strategy by Public Health Directorate, which found over 25% of five-year-olds have experience of tooth decay.
However, this particular recommendation was disrupted by the Council of Ministers, which wanted to opt for a more ‘cost effective’ and ‘wider reaching’ way forward.
CoMin suggested the fluoridation of the island’s water supply should be considered instead.
Ann Corlett, who presented the motion, said: ‘We acknowledge we could have engaged with dentists and the wider public and in any future enquiries into this area we will take this into account.’
Health Minister Lawrie Hooper noted that the enhancement of services ‘will always come at a cost’.
‘In some cases, much work is already underway to support the recommendations,’ he said. ‘For example, all children registered with an NHS dentist are already offered fluoride varnish twice yearly, in line with recommendation three. Mr Hooper also stressed that in order to allocate additional funding to dentistry, ‘other health and care services do not get that funding’.
He suggested amendments to the first three recommendations, stating that a broader review is needed.
It would mean the Public Health Directorate would need to research the impact of fluoridation on the population and tooth decay in children.
Mr Hooper said: ‘The Isle of Man Dental Association had recently endorsed fluoridation of community water supplies as safe and effective.’
His amendment was supported by the House of Keys, however Legislative Council rejected it. This means both branches will now have to vote as one body next month.
Onchan MHK Rob Callister felt a ‘comprehensive action plan’ that promises an increase in the number of NHS dentists to reduce waiting lists would be a better solution.
He couldn’t support the fluoridation of Manx water supplies, saying there instead needs to be more education for children to improve their oral health.
Tynwald will next sit on June 20.