Fluoridation: A public health milestone to make us all smile

1957

Challenge

More than half a century ago, tooth loss and decay was a serious public health issue afflicting most people, often at a young age. Periodontal diseases and dental caries left 17 million Americans age 45 and older (about three in 10) with none of their natural teeth Tooth Decay. If researchers could discover a way to prevent tooth decay, everyone would benefit.

Advance

IRP investigators at the National Institute of Dental Research (now the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR)) spearheaded studies in the 1940s and 1950s that showed the rate of tooth decay in children who drank fluoridated water fell more than 60 percent.

Impact

Water fluoridation stands out as one of the most significant and cost-effective public health milestones of the last century.

Publications

Francis A. Arnold, Jr. (1957). Grand Rapids Fluoridation Study—Results Pertaining to the Eleventh Year of Fluoridation. Am J Public Health Nations Health. 47(5), 539–545.

The Story of Fluoridation – http://www.nidcr.nih.gov/oralhealth/topics/fluoride/thestoryoffluoridation.htm.