Floridation; February 1996; Scientific American Magazine; by Doyle; 1 Page(s)
In January 1945 Grand Rapids, Mich., became the first city in the world to have controlled water fluoridation. The results there and, subsequently, in scores of other cities were overwhelmingly positive: the rate of cavities in permanent teeth of schoolchildren was typically 50 to 60 percent lower in cities with fluoridation compared with control cities with no fluoridation. Adults as well as children benefited.
Public health officials were optimistic that most communities in the country would soon take advantage of this highly cost-efficient method of improving dental health. But unexpected opposition arose: in the late 1940s many communities decided against fluoridation, apparently because there was widespread ignorance and confusion about its benefits and because some opponents misrepresented the scientific facts. Beginning in the 1950s, opponents claimed that fluoridation caused a variety of diseases, including cancer, birth defects and kidney disease. Despite more than 40 years of research concerning these claims, there is no believable evidence that these or any other diseases are caused or promoted by fluoride in public water supplies.