Something in the Water: A Look at Compulsory Fluoridation

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Something in the Water
A Look At Compulsory Fluoridation

Heralded as one of the 10 most important advances in public health administration in the 20th century, water fluoridation has come under recent scrutiny. There are an increasing number of scientific studies concluding that while fluoride may be proven to help eliminate tooth decay, it may also contribute to several irreversible, debilitating conditions in the human body. Despite this new information, American communities continue to artificially fluoridate their water sources, citing the dogma that fluoride is for one's own good, a notion still championed by the American Dental Association. It seems that the potential for overexposure to fluoride, and the deleterious effects of such a thing on an individual's health and well-being, demands that the consumption of fluoride be a decision left to the individual, rather than government officials.

In the 1930s, American researchers noticed that certain communities shared an unsightly condition of speckled or mottled teeth, and the cause was the concentration of fluoride in the communal water supplies. Henry Trendley Dean, director of the dental health arm of the National Institute Health, studied the phenomenon, finding that while potentially undesirable results would arise from too much fluoride exposure, fluoride in low concentrations could actually strengthen teeth and stave off tooth decay (Fagin). With the prospect of the next-big-thing in dental hygiene dangling so alluringly, the world's first great experiment with water fluoridation began in 1945, centered on the population of Grand Rapids, MI (Fagin). Grand Rapids was chosen due to the high occurrence of tooth decay among its citizens, and within 6 years of the start date, marked improvement in the abatement of tooth decay was recorded. With this success, many communities began their own municipally instituted fluoridation programs, and within 10 years, fluoride toothpaste became the...
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