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In 1931 at the University of Arizona Agricultural Experiment Station M. C.
Smith, E. M. Lantz, and H. V. Smith discovered that when given drinking water
supplied with fluorine, rats would develop tooth defects. Further testing by H.
T. Dean and E. Elove of the United States Public Health Service confirmed this
report, and stated that what is known as mottled tooth. Mottled tooth is a
condition in which white spots develop on the back teeth. Gradually the white
spots get darker and darker until the tooth is eroded completely. This was
believed to be caused by fluorine in drinking water (Behrman pg. 181).
A strong uproar was heard when this was released and people wanted all
fluorine out of their water. But later tests concluded that communities with
high levels of fluorine in their drinking water suffered less dental cavities.
Further testing concluded that at least 1.0 parts per million of fluorine could
help to prevent cavities, but more than 1.5 PPM would cause mottled tooth, so
basically a little fluorine would be okay but a lot of fluorine would be bad
In 1938, with this information, Dr. Gerald Cox of the Mellon Institute
began to promote the addition of fluoride to public water systems, claiming that
it would reduce tooth decay, however there were two major obstacles in his path,
The American Medical Association, and The American Dental Association. Both
associations wrote articles in their journals about the dangers of fluoridation
of water supplies. The American Dental Association wrote the following in the
October 1, 1944 issue: “We do know the use of drinking water containing as
little as 1.2 to 3.0 parts per million of fluorine will cause such developmental
disturbances in bones as osteoslcerosis, spondylosis and osteoperosis, as well
as goiter, and we cannot afford to run the risk of producing such serious
systemic disturbances in applying what is at present a doubtful procedure
intended to prevent development of dental disfigurements among children.”
(Yiamouyiannis pg. 138)
Despite these warnings Dr. Cox continued to promote fluoridation of
water supplies and even convinced a Wisconsin dentist, J. J. Frisch to promote
the addition of fluoride to water supplies in his book, The Fight For
Fluoridation. Frisch soon garnered the support of Frank Bull. Frank Bull
organized political campaigns in order to persuade local officials to endorse
fluoridation. This began to apply heavy pressure on the United States Public
Health Service and the American Dental Association. (Yiamouyiannis pg. 139)
In 1945 before any tests had been proven to show that fluoride reduced
cavities, it was added to the drinking water supply of Grand Rapids, Michigan.
This was done as a test. It would be the experiment to see if fluoride would
decrease the number of cavities. The data would be collected periodically over
the next five years, and in 1950 the data showed that the number of cavities was
decreasing, but in the town of Muskegon, which did not have a fluoridated water
supply, cavities decreased by the same margin. However the information about
Muskegon was covered up (Waldbott pg. 262).
A few days after the information about Grand Rapids was released the
United States Public Health Service called a press conference in which they said
that: “Communities desiring to fluoridate their communal water supplies should
be strongly encouraged to do so.” (Waldbott pg. 263)
In June 1951, dental health representatives from around the U. S. met
with dental health officials to discuss the promotion and implementation of
fluoride. It was at this conference that the United States Public Health
Service formally endorsed fluoridation. It had finally succumb to the pressure.
Two years later in 1953, the American Dental Association also began to support
fluoridation, when they released a pamphlet, sending it to every dentistry
office in the U. S. The pamphlet told the advantages of using fluoride,
encouraged acceptance and use of fluoride, and sought to overcome public
resistance to fluoride (Coffel).
From 1953 till 1977 the only debates going on about fluoridation was how
to fund it. Most organizations supported fluoridation, and those that did not
soon did, including, the National Research Council, the American Water Works
Association, the American Medical Association, and the World Health Organization.
All of these organizations endorsed fluoridation (Waldbott pg. 277).
However in 1977, the fluoridation controversy was brought back up by
John Yiamouyiannis. A committee was commissioned to clear up the fluoride
controversy once and for all. But it did not, it just raised it even more.
Yiamouyiannis led this committee. Yiamouyiannis in his statement to congress
referring to the results the committee gathered, said: “provide clear evidence
that fluoride is a carcinogen”. In his
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Chemistry, Dentistry, Matter, Water fluoridation, Fluoride, Dental fluorosis, Fluorine, Dental public health, Dental caries, Drinking water, Water fluoridation in the United States, Water fluoridation controversy
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