UK's first substantive water fluoridation scheme

Following pilot schemes, the first substantive water fluoridation scheme commenced in Birmingham in 1964. Further schemes were progressively introduced across the country.

Water fluoridation is intended to help prevent dental caries (tooth decay). While fluoride is naturally occurring in the water in some areas of the country, water fluoridation schemes adjust the level of fluoride in the water supply.


There was some resistance to the introduction of fluoridation in the UK, despite the World Health Organisation (WHO) adopting a resolution recommending fluoridation. Pamphlets and newspapers published cases against fluoridation, and concerns over the increasing 'chemicalisation' of food throughout the 1950s and 1960s encouraged people to question the process.

The British Housewives League (BHL) was central to the campaign against fluoridation. They felt government interference was leading to a post-war diet full of damaging chemicals.

More recently, fluoridation has been linked to increasing rates of obesity by opponent groups.


Public Health England.
Water fluoridation: Health monitoring report for England.
PHE; 2014.

Jonathan Reinarz.
Saving teeth, removing inequalities: Fluoridation in Birmingham, 1964-2014.
Modern British Studies at Birmingham; 2015.

Whipple A C.
'Into every home, into every body': organicism and anti-statism in the British Anti-Fluoridation Movement, 1952-1960.
20 Century Br Hist; 2010.
21(3): 330–49.