INDIA: Water worry: Dental fluorosis afflicts kids at city govt school

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INDIA: Water worry: Dental fluorosis afflicts kids at city govt school

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Water worry: Dental fluorosis afflicts kids at city govt school

Deccan Herald - April 7, 2022

About 20 students at a government higher primary school in southern Bengaluru showed signs of dental fluorosis during a recent screening, indicating high fluoride content in their drinking water. The screening camp conducted by medicos from the Oxford Dental College at the Government Higher Primary School in Kodichikkanahalli covered 350 students of classes 1 to 8, aged six to 13. Of them, 15- 20 children showed dental fluorosis, a condition that causes changes in the appearance of tooth enamel

The school said all students were provided drinking water treated by reverse osmosis and suggested that the affected children might have developed dental fluorosis from the drinking water at home.

The school has 398 children and 10 staff members.

Staff at the local BWSSB office said the piped Cauvery water supplied to 17,000 households in the area cannot possibly have fluoride. The water may have fluoride content only if groundwater from really deep borewells is sourced. While the area is supplied with Cauvery water twice a week, many residents depend on borewells, too. The area has 3,000 borewells registered with the BWSSB.

Discolouration of teeth

Tvishita Polakala, a third-year Bachelor of Dental Surgery student who screened the children, had this to say: “When the majority of the teeth get affected by excess fluoride content in water, they turn brownish in colour. In mild to moderate cases, the teeth are yellow. When there is more than one part per million of fluoride in the water, it starts affecting us. In at least three children, there was browning of the tooth surface.”

In another five students, the fluorosis was mild. “As the fluoride intake increases, it starts affecting the skeletal system, and bones start becoming brittle. These children are still young for this to show. It is a systemic effect because bones are prone to fracture and joint pains start. There is definitely fluorosis in the area,” she added.

Tvishita said the condition takes at least three to five years to develop.

Nine of Tvishita’s classmates, two interns and a student of Master of Dental Surgery also took part in the screening.

Basappa J Miraji, the in-charge headmaster at the school, told DH: “We provide only purified drinking water to children since we have a reverse osmosis plant that gives 150 litres per hour.”

Ramachandra R, who teaches science and mathematics to students in classes 6 to 8 at the school, said the fluorosis could be because of the water they drink at home. Most of the children are from the adjoining areas of Viratnagar, Cauvery Nagar, Rotary Nagar, and Kodichikkanahalli, he added.

A Nagaraja, an assistant executive engineer at the BWSSB, insisted there was “no chance” of Cauvery water having fluoride.

“Families may be getting water from tankers (which rely on borewells) because we supply the Cauvery water only twice a week. There is no chance of Cauvery water having fluoride. We do random testing of the water supplied. Only deep pockets of the earth have fluoride. Sourcing water from very deep borewells may produce this content,” he told this newspaper.

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