Fun With Fluoride

A timeline

Fun With Fluoride

1874: By the mid-19th century, experiments have established that fluoride occurs naturally in varying concentrations in teeth, bone, and drinking water. In 1874, Alvaro Francisco Carlos Reynoso of France files a U.S. patent for an "elixir" containing fluoride of potassium, sodium, or ammonium, as "invigorating, nutritious, and complemental to food ... for infants at the period when the bones and teeth are in process of formation." In the same year, Carl Erhardt of Emmendingen, Germany, recommends "potassium fluoride for the preservation of the teeth" via pastilles, especially "for children during dentition and for women during pregnancy when the teeth so frequently suffer."

1892: In his "Address on tooth culture," the English physician Sir James Crichton-Browne declares, "Analysis has proved that the enamel of the teeth contains more fluorine, in the form of fluoride of calcium, than any other part of the body"; he recommends "a supply of fluorine, while the development of the teeth is proceeding, is essential to the proper formation of the enamel ... to fortify the teeth of the next generation."

1928: After 25 years of research, Frederick S. McKay of Colorado Springs, Colo., concludes that teeth marked by "Colorado Brown Stain" or similar mottling (e.g., "Texas Teeth") show "a singular absence of decay" and that both the staining and the decay resistance are caused by something in the local drinking water. In 1931, the substance is confirmed as fluoride; excessive levels in some regional water sources produce the staining known as "fluorosis."

1936: U.S. Public Health Service Officer Trendley Dean concludes that fluoride concentrations of about one part per million prevent tooth decay while not discoloring teeth.

1945: Grand Rapids, Mich., becomes the first city to fluoridate its water.

1951: Water fluoridation becomes an official policy of the U.S. Public Health Service.

1958: The John Birch Society was founded by Robert Welch Jr. in Indianapolis to combat alleged "international Communist conspiracy" secretly governing both the U.S. and the USSR; it opposes water fluoridation as a Communist plot.

1960: Water fluoridation becomes widely used in the U.S., reaching about 50 million people.

1964: Dr. Strangelove released – Stanley Kubrick's satirical film in which General Jack D. Ripper initiates a U.S. nuclear attack on the Soviet Union to stop Communist conspiracy of water fluoridation.

1972: Austin public referendum approves fluoridation of water supply (57% to 43%).

1999: Centers for Disease Control cites water fluoridation to prevent tooth decay as one of the 10 Greatest Public Health Achievements of the 20th Century.

2000: Presidential candidate Ralph Nader opposes fluoridation; Fluoride Action Network formed to oppose fluoridation.

2004: Publication of The Fluoride Deception by Christopher Bryson.

2006: 69% of the U.S. population on public water systems are receiving fluoridated water (61.5% of the total U.S. population); 3% of the population on public water systems are receiving naturally occurring fluoride.

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