Fluoride Action Network

Fluoride studies that received NIDCR funding

Fluoride Action Network | February 4, 2022 | By Ellen Connett

In 1998, the National Institute of Dental Research (NIDR) was renamed the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR)

“The ADA [American Dental Association] sponsored the bill to create the National Institute of Dental Research (NIDR)… This institute would become credited with motivating 17 countries to fluoridate their water, for training hundreds of foreign dental scientists, and for funding research in 7 foreign countries. The New York Times described the first two NIDR directors as fluoride pioneers (there were 4 such recognized fluoride pioneers) [67,68]. These NIDR directors’ were ADA members and had a long prior history of research on fluorides and micro-organisms [69]. The term fluoride appears extensively in the index of a book on the 20th century history of NIDR…”
By Philippe P. Hujoel, How a Nutritional Deficiency Became Treated with Fluoride, Nutrients, 2021.

The Forsyth Institute, Phyllis Mullenix, and the rat study that effectively banned her from working in academia

Phyllis Mullenix was hired as Chair of Toxicology at the Forysth Dental Center, now known as the Forsyth Institute, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1982. Forsyth is one of the most prestigious dental research institutes in the US and is affiliated with the Harvard School of Dental Medicine. Mullenix was hired by Forsyth to study the neurotoxic effects of chemicals commonly used in dentistry. The NIDR (predesessor to the NIDCR) were highly invested in the Institute, and according to the Harvard Gazette, Forsyth received the most grant money, $12.1 million, that NIDCR gave out in 2003.

In The Fluoride Deception (2004), the author Chris Bryson describes the circumstances of how Dr. Phyllis Mullenix was fired for her prescient study, Neurotoxicity of sodium fluoride in rats, published in 1995, and the reactions of the NIDCR and NIH to it. Below is a short excerpt, but one can read the full story starting with chapter 1, Through the Looking Glass and chapter 2, Fireworks at Forsyth online here.

The Fluoride Deception (2004) by Chris Bryson


In an e-mail sent to me on July 19, 2002, Dr. Robert H. Selwitz of the same agency wrote that he was “not aware of any follow-up studies” nor were the potential CNS effects of fluoride “a topic of primary focus” for government grant givers. Dr. Selwitz is the Senior Dental Epidemiologist and Director of the Residency Program in Dental Public Health, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, NIH. At first he appeared to suggest that the Mullenix study [Neurotoxicity of sodium fluoride in rats] had little relevance for human beings, telling me that her rats were “fed fluoride at levels as high as 175 times the concentration found in fluoridated drinking water.”

But his statement was subtly misleading. Rats and humans have very different metabolisms, and in laboratory experiments these differences must be compensated for. The critical measurement in studying effects on the central nervous system is not how much fluoride is given to the laboratory animals but how much of the chemical, after they drink it, subsequently appears in the animals’ blood. The amount of fluoride in the blood of the Mullenix rats—a measurement known as the blood serum level—had been the equivalent of what would appear in the blood of a human drinking about 5 parts per million of fluoride in water. This, of course, is just five times the level the government suggests is “optimal” for fluoridated water-1 ppm. I asked Dr. Selwitz, therefore, if it was fair to portray the Mullenix rats as having drunk “175 times” the amount of fluoride that citizens normally consume from fluoridated water.

Wasn’t the “blood serum” measurement and comparison more relevant? Wasn’t his statement, inadvertently at least, misleading?

Dr. Selwitz, who had just been ready to dispense medical arguments and implied reassurances as to why Mullenix’s research was not relevant to human beings, now explained that he could not answer my question.

“The questions you are asking in your recent e-mail message involve the field of fluoride physiology,” wrote the senior dental epidemiologist at NIDCR. “This subject is not my area of expertise

Some studies funded by the NIDCR (we will add more as time allows)



(# of authors)



2021 U. of Washington – 3 Fluoride Prescribing Behaviors for Medicaid-Enrolled Children in Oregon.
2021 U. of Iowa – 5
Indiana U. – 4
Duke U. – 2
U. of Michigan – 1
Tooth Eruption and Early Childhood Caries: A Multisite Longitudinal Study.
2021 Columbia U. –  8
May 7.
Protocol for a family-centered behavioral intervention to reduce early childhood caries: the MySmileBuddy program efficacy trial.
2021 U. of Iowa – 11 Bone
Feb 10.
Effects of fluoride intake on cortical and trabecular bone microstructure at early adulthood using multi-row detector computed tomography (MDCT).
2021  Augusta U. (GA) – 3
Ohio State U. – 1

Jan 11.
Curcumin suppresses cell growth and attenuates fluoride-mediated Caspase-3 activation in ameloblast-like LS8 cells.
2021 U. of Iowa – 1
U. of Florida – 2
Analyzing longitudinal clustered count data with zero inflation: Marginal modeling using the Conway-Maxwell-Poisson distribution.
2021 1. U. of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester
2. Harvard School of Dental Medicine
3. Consultant, Texas
4. U. of North Carolina
5. U. of North Carolina
A case-control study of topical and supplemental fluoride use and osteosarcoma risk.
2020 U. of Rochester – 12
*Healthy Baby Network
Nov 23.
Interprofessional collaboration and smartphone use as promising strategies to improve prenatal oral health care utilization among US underserved women: results from a qualitative study.
2020 U. of Iowa – 1
U. of Florida – 2
U. of Louisville – 1
A longitudinal Bayesian mixed effects model with hurdle Conway-Maxwell-Poisson distribution.
2020 U. of Iowa – 5 Beverage Intakes and Toothbrushing During Childhood Are Associated With Caries at Age 17 Years.
2020 Federal University of Pelotas, Brazil – 4
U. of Pennsylvania – 2

Mar 1.
Anti-biofilm activity of a novel pit and fissure self-adhesive sealant modified with metallic monomers.
2020 U. of Iowa – 3
Genesis Health System – 1

Jan 1.
Use of the Fluoride Varnish Billing Code in a Tertiary Care Center Setting.
2020 1.Consultant
2.Boston U.
3.U.of North Carolina
4.Seoul National U.
5.Natl. Cancer Institute
6.Harvard School DentalMedicine
A Case-Control Study of Fluoridation and Osteosarcoma.
2020 U. of Iowa – 6
Feb 24.

Decline in Dental Fluorosis Severity during Adolescence: A Cohort Study.

-study also funded by
Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust
Delta Dental Foundation

Sichuan Agricultural U. (China) – 2
Augusta U. – 3
Ohio State U. – 1
Jan 3.
Histone acetyltransferase promotes fluoride toxicity in LS8 cells.


U. of Iowa – 4 32(1):58-64.
Jan 2.
An 8-Year Longitudinal Analysis of Physical Activity and Bone Strength From Adolescence to Emerging Adulthood: The Iowa Bone Development Study.
2019  U. of North Carolina – 3
Nov 25.
Emulation of Community Water Fluoridation Coverage Across US Counties.
2019 U.of Iowa – 1
Dentist – 1
U.of Alabama at Birmingham – 1
Nov 1.
Models to Predict Future Permanent Tooth Caries Incidence in Children Using Primary Teeth Caries Experience.
2019 U. of Iowa – 4
Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Boston – 1
U. of Pittsburgh – 2
Genome-Wide Association Analysis of Longitudinal Bone Mineral Content Data From the Iowa Bone Development Study.
2019 U. of Iowa – 4
Indiana U. – 2
U. of Michigan – 1

Jan 1.
Changes in Parental Perceptions of Their Care of Their Children’s Oral Health From Age 1 to 4 Years.
2019 U. of Iowa – 5 119(3):425-434.
Jan 9.
Child and Adolescent Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Intakes Are Longitudinally Associated with Higher Body Mass Index z Scores in a Birth Cohort Followed 17 Years.
2019 U. of Iowa – 4
May 1.
Contribution of High School Sport Participation to Young Adult Bone Strength.
2019 Tulane U. – 2
Duke U. – 1
Addis Ababa U. – 2
Augusta U. – 1
U. of Kentucky – 1

Dec 7.
Bone quality in fluoride-exposed populations: A novel application of the ultrasonic method.
2019 U. of North Carolina – 6 9(2):e022580.
Feb 1.
Referendum opposition to fluoridation and health literacy: a cross-sectional analysis conducted in three large US cities.
2019 U. of Washington – 8
Washington State U. – 1

Sep 9.
Organizational Readiness to Implement System Changes in an Alaskan Tribal Dental Care Organization.
2018 U. of Iowa – 6
U. of Alabama at Birmingham – 1
Sep 20. Survival analysis of caries incidence in African-American school-aged children.
2018 U. of Iowa – 3
U. of Michigan – 2
Indiana U. – 4
Duke U. – 2
Nationwide Children’s Hospital, OH – 1George Mason U. -1

Sep 11.
Predicting Caries in Medical Settings: Risk Factors in Diverse Infant Groups.
2018 U. of Iowa – 11
Research consultant  -|

Aug 29.
Associations of fluoride intake with children’s cortical bone mineral and strength measures at age 11.
2018  U. of Iowa – 9
Jul 1.

Fluoride intake and cortical and trabecular bone characteristics in adolescents at age 17: A prospective cohort study.


2018 U. of Iowa – 6
May 12.
Longitudinal associations between dental caries increment and risk factors in late childhood and adolescence.
2018 U. of Iowa – 2
U., of Michigan – 1
Indiana U. -3
Duke U. – 1
Feb 1.
Fluoride Use in Health Care Settings: Association with Children’s Caries Risk.
2018 U. of North Carolina – 7 149(4):273-280.e3.
Feb 14.
Fluoridation advocacy in referenda where media coverage is balanced yet biased..
2018  U. of North Carolina (2*) 97(10):1122-1128.
Jun 14.
Water Fluoridation and Dental Caries in U.S. Children and Adolescents.
2018  U. of Washington – 6
Washington State U. – 1

Jun 4.
Dental health aides in Alaska: A qualitative assessment to improve paediatric oral health in remote rural villages.
2018 U. of California – 1
U. of Connecticut – 1
U. of Washington – 1

Apr 1.
Fluorides and Other Preventive Strategies for Tooth Decay.
2018  U. of California – 1
Feb 1.
Silver Fluoride as a Treatment for Dental Caries.
2017  U. of Iowa – 8 45(6):538-544.
Jul 3.
Dental caries clusters among adolescents.
2017 U. of Iowa – 3
Marquette U., WI – 1

Dec 29.
The relationships between fluoride intake levels and fluorosis of late-erupting permanent teeth.
2017 Ohio State U. -2
U. of Columbus -1
U. of Georgia – 1
4-phenylbutyrate Mitigates Fluoride-Induced Cytotoxicity in ALC Cells.
2017  U. of Colorado – 2
May 4.
Acculturation and Pediatric Minority Oral Health Interventions.
2017 U. of Washington – 3
U. of California – 5
Sept 1.
Topical silver diamine fluoride for dental caries arrest in preschool children: A randomized controlled trial and microbiological analysis of caries associated microbes and resistance gene expression.
2016 U. of California – 4
July 8.
Acceptability of Salt Fluoridation in a Rural Latino Community in the United States: An Ethnographic Study.
2016 U. of California – 2
U. of Washington – 1
Jan 1.
UCSF Protocol for Caries Arrest Using Silver Diamine Fluoride: Rationale, Indications and Consent.
2016 U. of Washington – 4
U.Alas Peruanas, Peru – 1
U. Catolica de Santa Maria, Peru – 1
U. Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Peru – 2
Sept 1.
Milk Sweetened with Xylitol: A Proof-of-Principle Caries Prevention Randomized Clinical Trial.
2016 U. of Iowa – 7
U. of Alabama – 1

Dental Caries in High-risk, School-age African American Children in Alabama: A Six-year Prospective.
2016 U. of Colorado – 10
Apr 1.
A Community-Based Oral Health Intervention in Navajo Nation Head Start: Participation Factors and Contextual Challenges.
2015 U. of North Carolina – 5
Indiana U. – 1
Cells Tissues Organs

Sep 19.

Fluoride Modulates Parathyroid Hormone Secretion in vivo and in vitro.
2015 U. of Washington – 9
Sept 8.
Dental attendance among low-income women and their children following a brief motivational counseling intervention: A community randomized trial.
2015 Albino J,
Tiwari T.
 U. of Colorado – 2 95(1):35-42.
Oct 15.
Preventing Childhood Caries: A Review of Recent Behavioral Research.
2014 U. of Washington – 3
U. of Rochester – 1
U. of California – 1
Aug 18.
Pharmacokinetics of fluoride in toddlers after application of 5% sodium fluoride dental varnish.
2014 U. of Iowa – 9
Sep 11.
Prevalence and incidence of early childhood caries among African-American children in Alabama.
2014 U. of Iowa – 3
U. of Tennessee – 1
, 36(4):342-347.
Jul 1.
Infant breast-feeding and childhood caries: a nine-year study.
2014 Cláudia A. N. Kobayashi, Aline L. Leite,
Camila Peres-Buzalaf,
Juliane G. Carvalho,
Gary M. Whitford
Eric T. Everett
Walter L. Siqueira,
Marília A. R. Buzalaf
U. of Sao Paulo – 3
U. do Sagrado Coracao – 1
Georgia U. – 1
U. of North Carolina – 1
Western U. (Ontario) – 1
Bone response to fluoride exposure is influenced by genetics.
2014 U. of  Iowa – 10
* Consultant

93(4): 353–359.
Effects of life-long fluoride intake on bone measures of adolescents: a prospective cohort study.
2014 *U. of Washington – 1
July 29.
Evaluation of a parent-designed programme to support tooth brushing of infants and young children.
2014 Ohio State U. – 1
U. of North Carolina – 2
U. of Pittsburgh – 1
U. of Washington – 2
Aug 13.
Improving children’s oral health: an interdisciplinary research framework.
2014 U. of Washington – 2
Griffith U. (Australia) – 1
Cluster-randomized xylitol toothpaste trial for early childhood caries prevention.
2014 U. of Washington – 8
Klamath County Public Health – 1
Feb 24.
Treatment fidelity of brief motivational interviewing and health education in a randomized clinical trial to promote dental attendance of low-income mothers and children: Community-Based Intergenerational Oral Health Study “Baby Smiles“.
2013 U. of North Carolina (Chapel Hill) – 5
Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research – 1
U. of Texas – 1

Apr 15.
Tooth-surface-specific effects of xylitol: randomized trial results.
2013 U. of Washington – 7
Klamath County Public Health – 1

Aug 6.
Design of a community-based intergenerational oral health study: “Baby Smiles”.
2012 .

U. of Iowa – 6
U. of Pittsburgh – 3
Washington U., MO – 1
Apr 13.
Genetic and environmental factors associated with dental caries in children: the Iowa Fluoride Study.
2012 Case Western University – 3 91(9):859-864.
Jul 20.
Early maternal psychosocial factors are predictors for adolescent caries.
2011 1, 3, 7. Harvard
2. Tufts Medical Center
4.Georgia School of Dentistry
5. U. of Puerto Rico
6.National Cancer Institute
Journal of Dental Research
90(10): 1171–1176.
An Assessment of Bone Fluoride and Osteosarcoma.
2010 U. of North Carolina – 4 89(12):1395-1400.
Oct 5.
Oral health literacy among female caregivers: impact on oral health outcomes in early childhood.
2010  U. of Florida
89(9): 1002–1006.

Fluoride and chlorhexidine release from filled resins.
2009 U. of Maryland – 1*
Nov 1.
Update on early childhood caries since the Surgeon General’s Report.
2009 U. of Washington – 3 The challenge of sedation with adolescents: case studies and clinical recommendations.
2004 U. of Washington – 1
U. of California (SF) – 1
U. of Michigan – 1
New York U. – 1

Oct 1.
Improving America’s access to care: The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research addresses oral health disparities.

1. U. of Texas


34(11):885-888 .
Jan 1.
The distribution of fluoride of prenatal origin in the rat–a pilot study.