Few medicines are free from side effects but some 'wonder drugs' are deemed effective enough to warrant use, despite major concerns linking them to increased risk of disease. There are plenty of conspiracy theories surrounding artificial water fluoridation, figures can be manipulated and misinterpreted but the facts are there for all to see.

Natural fluoride fundamental in growing strong enamel

Natural fluoride is present as the teeth are first forming and is fundamental in growing strong enamel, a lack of fluoride at this stage may cause damage that can never be repaired.

Research by the NHS found that by the age of five nearly two-thirds of children living in certain areas of the UK had at least one rotten tooth. Children drinking fluoridated water, however, suffered 15 per cent less tooth decay than those living in non-fluoridated areas.

Fluoride is present in all water sources around the world and was first artificially added in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In a later study children born after the introduction of water fluoridation were found to suffer 60 per cent less dental caries. It has since been adopted by every state in the USA and is available to 66 per cent of Americans, over 200 million people. In some parts of the UK, the natural fluoride in the water supply matches their legal limit of artificial fluoride, one part per million.

The process of adding fluoride was introduced in the UK in 1964 and now 10 per cent of the population drink optimally fluoridated water.

According to the CDC, it is one of the most important health achievements of the 20th century.

98 per cent of European nations voted to ban artificial water fluoridation

Artificial fluoride is added to public drinking water in the form of calcium fluoride which is also found in pesticides and is known to be toxic to humans.

In fact, a 300mg tube of toothpaste can be lethal to a small child. The lethal dose of calcium fluoride is 50 times smaller than that of naturally occurring fluoride.

Lobbyists cite the increased risk of osteoporosis and dental fluorosis, a poisoning of the body's enzymes, and 'mass medication' without consent. Many of the theories surrounding the topic are outlandish and largely unfounded, yet the arguments gain momentum and go unanswered.

Studies suggest exposure to fluoride may be detrimental to children

There is evidence to suggest high levels of fluoride, whether natural or artificial, is linked to lower IQ in children. Scientists researching the effects on children in Tianjin, China stated that "our study suggests a potential connection between dental fluorosis and a loss of excellent intelligence". However, other factors such as schooling, parental education and socio-economic standing were not taken into account.

Water fluoridation clearly isn't a cure-all but perhaps clearer guidelines, explanations and choice would stop something that is in the best interests for public health in impoverished areas becoming something to fear.