We are adding this article for historical purposes only. (EC)
I know most communities add fluoride to the water, as it’s supposed to prevent cavities. But does it really help? And does this additive come with potential downsides to our health?
Dr. Prescott Prescribes
The Centers for Disease Control has named water fluoridation one of the 20th century’s greatest health achievements. It’s proven effective in combating tooth decay, and studies have not identified any connection between fluoridation and health risks.
Today, more than 70 percent of communities in the U.S. fluoridate their water. The practice started in the 1940s, based on an observation first made more than a century ago in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
A dentist noticed that the town’s residents overwhelmingly had permanent brown stains on their teeth. Over the next decades, in attempting to solve the mystery of “Colorado Brown Stain,” dental researchers identified other communities with a similar problem. Eventually, they discovered two additional factors that tied them all together.
First, water samples showed high levels of fluoride, a naturally occurring element. Second, the enamel of these stained teeth proved unusually resistant to tooth decay.
Follow-up research found that keeping fluoride concentrations below a certain level prevented the staining (known, technically, as fluorosis) in all but a small percentage of people. Even at these reduced levels, though, dental researchers suspected that fluoride might offer protection against cavities.
In what was essentially an experiment, the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan, decided to test this hypothesis. In 1945, with funding from the Surgeon General (and, later, from the National Institute of Dental Research), Grand Rapids became the first city in the world to fluoridate its drinking water.
During the next 15 years, scientists monitored the rate of tooth decay among the city’s schoolchildren. What they found was remarkable: For children born after the city began fluoridating the water, the rate of cavities dropped by more than 60 percent.
That finding, buttressed by numerous subsequent studies, transformed fluoride into public health’s primary weapon against tooth decay.
Beginning in the 1990s, a series of studies examined whether fluoridated water could cause cancer or other diseases. None found any credible evidence linking fluoridation to any health risks.
Prescott, a physician and medical researcher, is president of the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation. Cohen is a marathoner and OMRF’s senior vice president and general counsel.
*Original article online at https://oklahoman.com/article/5645416/body-works-do-we-need-fluoride-in-our-water