January 26, 2020
by Jennifer Meyer, Stat News
Seventy-five years ago, on Jan. 25, 1945, public health officials began an experiment in Grand Rapids, Mich., to prevent the pain, misery, and cost of tooth decay: adjusting the level of fluoride in drinking water. Cavity rates plunged with fluoridation.
Today, 211 million Americans have access to fluoridated water. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hailed this strategy as one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century. Yet as we celebrate this milestone, community water fluoridation faces a renewed threat from a recent study.
Fluoride is a mineral found naturally in lakes, rivers, and other water sources, but the typical level in the U.S. is usually too low to prevent cavities. So numerous public water systems in cities and towns across the country add fluoride to achieve the optimal level of 0.7 milligrams per liter.
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