Fluoridated milk looks set to be handed out as part of Blackpool’s free school breakfast scheme – but parents will be able to opt out of allowing their children to be given the drink.
Councillors are set to consider a fresh proposal on Monday to introduce fluoridated milk in a bid to reduce high levels of tooth decay.
Unfortunately the state of Blackpool’s dental health is very poorCoun Graham Cain
Coun Graham Cain, cabinet secretary for Blackpool Council, described the move as ‘bold’ but added: “Unfortunately the state of Blackpool’s dental health is very poor.
“Through a number of methods such as education in schools and children’s centres, as well as giving away toothbrushes and toothpaste to children, we have managed to raise awareness of the importance of oral hygiene.
“However, where some parts of the country can benefit from fluoride naturally appearing in their daily drinking water, in Blackpool we cannot.
“What we do have is a method through the free breakfast programme that allows us to reach all primary school children as they are growing up and make the fluoride milk available to them there.
“The scheme will be available to all primary school children but parents will have the option to opt out if they wish.”
Moves to introduce fluoride into milk in Blackpool were first put forward in 2013 but then shelved while further studies into the impact were carried out by Public Health England.
A study carried out in Blackpool last year revealed children in the town have lower than normal levels of fluoride in their bodies.
If the council’s executive approves the move, when it meets on Monday, 8,400 pupils who currently receive daily milk as part of Blackpool’s free school breakfast scheme, will be offered fluoridated milk.
It will not add to the cost of the scheme as the order will just be changed.
The proposal comes as figures show almost half of 12-year-olds in the town have at least one decayed, missing or filled tooth – much higher than the national average of 33 per cent.
Around 400 children in Blackpool are also admitted to hospital every year to have teeth extracted under general anaesthetic.