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The government ponders fluorine in salts

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- With the high occurrence of cavities in the nation's teeth, the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MHW) is studying the feasibility of adding fluorine, known for its cavity prevention effect, to table salts.

Tooth decay was so common in Taiwan last year that the National Health Insurance doled out NT$16.3 billion in total to compensate for cavity-related expenses.

Statistics show that children under the age of 12 visit dentists to fill cavities twice per year on average. These children have on average 2.5 decayed teeth, which is much higher than the 1.67 average in 189 other countries. Taiwan ranks 2nd among the 34 OECD countries. In addition, data shows that up to 79 percent of Taiwan's children under five have cavities.

MHW chief Chiu Wen-ta (邱文達) has instructed competent authorities to investigate the feasibility of including fluorine in table salts in an effort to ease the prevalent tooth decay problem in Taiwan.

The MHW recently invited members of the nation's dentistry association to a meeting studying the fluorine inclusion proposal. Attendants said they would support it so long as a thorough analysis conducted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proves the practice safe and appropriate.

Switzerland, Germany and several other countries in Europe and the Americas have included fluorine in table salts in order to alleviate tooth decay problems, according to the MHW. The practice is also recommended by the World Health Organization.

If the policy is put into place, businesses will not be obligated to add fluorine to their salts, but they will be encouraged to do so and label it accordingly, the MOHW said, adding that the businesses will need to apply to the FDA in advance.

Research shows that adding fluorine into table salts can reduce the cavity rate by 50 to 70 percent.

Besides adding fluorine into table salts to reduce cavity rates, some countries have added the element in drinking water. These countries include the U.S., New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore and Canada.

June 12, 2014    pakua@
Fluorine / fluoride in the water was pioneered by the Nazi's and Soviets to create a docile population and lower people's IQ. It will also calcify the Pineal Gland which is a major concern to Buddhists' and Taoist's spiritual cultivation.
June 12, 2014    Emailnick@
Say NO to fluoridation! This is terrible news for anyone living in Taiwan. They should only add it to salt so at least we can choose if we would like it or not. If you add this fertilizer by product to the water we won't have a choice much like America and Australia. Also a lot of people boil water here before drinking it which concentrates the fluoride in the water. It's poison read your toothpaste if ingested it says call the poisons hotline. Kids here have a high decay rate because of poor hygiene and too much sugar. All those Aunties giving out too many lollies. There is no magic fix for tooth decay. Just education on health and good habits.
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