Fluoride Action Network


Page 1 of article

ALBERTA lags behind most of the other provinces in Canada in instituting fluoridation as a public health measure for preventing tooth decay although the University of Alberta was the first institution in Canada to carry out significant research on this subject. The discovery that fluorine in water could prevent dental caries was first made in 1931 by research workers in the United States and as early as 1935 the travelling public health clinic in Alberta reported opaque white or mild mottling of teeth in the Grassy Lake area. An extensive survey of the relationship of the fluorine content of water and mottling of teeth was later carried out jointly by the Departments of Chemistry and Dentistry of the University of Alberta in conjunction with the Provincial Department of Public Health and the Provincial Laboratory.

The principal participants in this study were the Deputy Minister, Dr. M. R. Bow, and Dr. O. J. Walker, Professor of Chemistry at the University of Alberta. These men had collaborated previously on a study of the iodine content of soil and water as related to endemic goitre in Alberta. Beginning in 1937, Walker and his co-workers published the first in a series of scientific papers on the subject of fluorine and mottling of tooth enamel and proved that in Alberta fluorine content of the waster was related to mild mottling of teeth (3). In general, high fluorine samples were usually found in wells over 80 feet deep although in the Lethbridge area samples of over 1 ppm were found in shallow wells and springs.

Subsequent papers by these workers in 1937 and 1939 dealt with refinements in the measuring of small amounts of fluorine in the water and removal of excess fluorine (4, 5).

In 1942 Dr. H. R. MacLean who was representing Alberta at the first meeting of the newly formed Associate Committee on Dental Research of the National Research Council introduced the subject of fluoridation In the discussion that followed it was pointed out that there was need for controlled clinical studies in which fluorides would be added to deficient water to determine whether the reduction in tooth decay would be the same as when fluorides occurred naturally. However, funds could not be provided by the National Research Council at the time to support clinical research of this nature.

It appears that Alberta lost the lead at this stage. It remained for Dr. W. L. Hutton, Medical Officer of Health in Brant County, Ontario, with Dr. H. K. Brown, Dental Consultant, Department of National Health and Welfare, and …

*Original online at https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/41982652.pdf?seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents