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Oral health

Oral health is important for general health and wellbeing. Poor oral health can affect someone's ability to eat, speak, smile. Also, the pain and appearance of decayed teeth can affect people's ability to socialise normally. Dental pain can result in sleepless nights, days off school and time off work.

Oral health problems include gum (periodontal) disease, tooth decay, tooth loss and oral cancers. While children's oral health has improved over the last twenty years, tooth decay remains the most common oral disease affecting children and young people in England, yet it is largely preventable.

Oral health strategy

We are responsible for public health and lead on the development and implementation of an oral health strategy for our area.

Oral health strategies aim to reduce the levels of dental disease in our population - and specifically levels of dental decay in young children and vulnerable groups.

Our strategy is developed by us as part of our work to ensure that oral health promotion programmes are based on evidence and delivered according to identified need.

There is significant evidence that people living in areas of deprivation are at a higher risk of having poorer oral health, particularly children and vulnerable groups. 

What we are doing in County Durham

In County Durham, we have worked with a range of relevant organisations to develop our strategy to ensure it will have the best possible impact on the oral health of our communities. The strategy includes a range of actions which target groups most affected. 

A key action in the strategy is to explore the feasibility of a water fluoridation scheme. Our October 2019 cabinet report outlines the next steps for this and an update on the progress of the strategy.


Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally in the environment - it's found in virtually all water, both drinking water and seawater, in the soil and certain foods. When combined with other minerals, fluoride strengthens tooth enamel. The addition of fluoride to toothpaste has contributed over the last few decades to an overall improvement in dental health in England.

Improving oral health through community water fluoridation - County Durham, Sunderland and South Tyneside

We are exploring the possibility of varying the current community water fluoridation schemes. This is part of an overall strategic approach to improving oral health as part of each council's public health responsibilities.

Contact us
Public Health
03000 264 109
Our address is:
  • County Hall
  • Adult and Health Services
  • Durham
  • County Durham
  • United Kingdom
  • DH1 5UJ