Milk fluoridation programmes

Although the Foundation has greatly extended its work in wider areas of prevention, milk fluoridation remains a priority.

The use of fluorides is widely recognised as an important measure in caries prevention. The WHO strongly endorses the development and implementation of fluoridation programmes for the improvement of oral health and has recommended that priority be given to equitable strategies for the ‘automatic’ administration of fluoride, for example, in drinking-water, salt or milk.

The nutritional value of milk is well documented; milk can make a significant contribution to the human diet through the provision of macro-nutrients, vitamins and minerals. The subject of milk and oral health has also been extensively researched. Milk is often made available to children through school and nutritional programmes, and in a number of countries it is existing distribution systems of this kind that have provided a cost-efficient ‘vehicle’ for the targeted delivery of fluoride. Importantly, the use of existing milk distribution systems has meant that fluoridated milk can often be supplied at the same cost as non-fluoridated milk, which has proved to be an important factor when the feasibility and sustainability of such interventions have been under consideration.

The Foundation is currently providing support for community-based milk fluoridation programmes in ChileUnited Kingdom, and Thailand. These have been developed by central or local government departments / agencies and are operated through schools and kindergartens, in some cases forming part of wider ‘health promoting schools’ initiatives.

Support has also been provided to help investigate the feasibility of schemes in other countries and we would be pleased to hear from anyone who might be interested to explore the possibilities for collaboration. More information on the key issues that need to be addressed when considering the potential for the development of a new programme can be found on this site.