Grand Rapids Was the First U.S. City to Add Fluoride To Its Water
Fluoride has been a part of most of our lives for some time. It's in our toothpaste, in our mouthwash, and has been in the public water supply in most areas for a while now. However, the very first city in the United States to add fluoride to its water supply is right here in Michigan.
In 1945, the city of Grand Rapids became the first U.S. city to make the decision to fluoridate its water supply. And, it had incredible results. Just five years later, it was found that school children in Grand Rapids had,
significantly fewer cavities than children from surrounding communities.
In light of those results, many surrounding Michigan towns began adding fluoride to their public water supply and began noticing similar results, according to cdc.gov.
What is Fluoridation?
Simply put, the definition of fluoridation is,
Community water fluoridation is the process of adjusting the amount of fluoride in drinking water to a level recommended for preventing tooth decay.
That's according, again, to the CDC.
Wasn't There Backlash/Resistance to Adding Fluoride to Water?
To be clear, when Grand Rapids decided to add fluoride to its water supply in 1945, dentists had already been observing what seemed to be a lower number of cavities and cases of tooth decay in those that lived in areas where fluoride was naturally occurring in their water supply. That goes back to the 1930s. And, it's said that the connection between fluoride and healthier teeth goes back even further to the late 1800s. So, it's not like the decision to add fluoride to the water was a rash or spur-of-the-moment decision.
However, in the 2010s, community members began expressing their concerns over the use of fluoride in the water for a number of different reasons. According to a 2013 article from wrvo.org, concerns ranged from potential damage to water pipes to community members feeling like the government was overreaching "in the name of public health." While there's no way to prove or disprove the latter, the former claim was rejected in that same article. Read it here.
Similarly, a 2018 article from nbcnews.com focused on a group of anti-fluoridationists that were loudly proclaiming that the fluoride in the water was causing lower IQs, acne, anemia, and Alzheimers. Despite evidence to the contrary, the fears and rhetoric were widespread enough that 74 cities voted to remove fluoride from their water supply. Read the full article here.
In regards to what is safe for you and your family, it's a good practice to consult your doctor or dentist for up-to-date and accurate information.
Dental care is important, yes, but sometimes inaccessible to those who cannot afford it. However, there's a mobile clinic hoping to help bridge the gap in the SW Michigan area. Read more below: