A MANICALAND-BASED scientist has developed a machine that removes excess fluoride in underground water, which causes widespread fluorosis in poor communities in Zimbabwe.
Fluorosis is a cosmetic condition that affects the teeth and is caused by over-exposure to fluoride during the first eight years of life.
Chengetai Dunga, based at Birchenough Bridge hospital, said he developed the Chengie Advanced Claypot Defluoridation plant after realising the extent of poor oral health in Zimbabwe’s rural areas.
“Most children are exposed to fluoride from ground water like boreholes, deep wells and industrial waste,” he said.
“Ground water should be tested for fluoride before being commissioned for use. The only solution to reduce fluorosis complication is through defluoridation of water.”
Dunga’s machine — which can purify enough water to fill 48 000 500ml bottles at a time — has been registered by the Health and Child Welfare ministry, as well as the Africa Regional Intellectual Property Organisation for patent.
“This technology will reduce fluorosis from grassroots upwards and has been recommended by the Ministry of Health and Child Care and Medical Research Council of Zimbabwe, among other organisations,” he said.
“It is not easy for one to know that they are affected by fluorosis, as it could only be detected by a professional dentist.
“Mild to moderate fluorosis produces white lines, streaks or spots.
“In more severe fluorosis, the teeth can become pitted and have brown, gray or black spots. The enamel may also have an unusual shape.”
According to the Columbia Dental School, fluorosis affects only the appearance of teeth. It does not result in cavities.
As a result, most treatment for fluorosis consists of masking the stain. Dunga said he was now scouting for investors to commercialise his invention.