Fluoride is a mineral that is naturally occurring in rocks, soil, water, plants, and the air. It is also known to provide your teeth with extra protection against tooth decay. Additionally, many public water sources add fluoride in small amounts to help their residents keep their beams healthy. The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) also considers water fluoridation to be one of the top 10 most important public health advances of the 20th century. Keep reading to learn about the history of his magical mineral.
The Colorado Brown Stain
Colorado residents noticed that there were mysterious brown stains appearing on their teeth in 1901. A dental school graduate named Frederick McKay was astounded by this phenomenon when he moved to Colorado Springs. There was no mention of brown-stained teeth in dental literature during that time, so residents thought they could be caused by drinking inferior milk or eating too much pork.
McKay worked with a dental researcher named Dr. G. V. Black to get to the bottom of what was causing the stains. After six years, they determined that nearly 90% of children born locally had stained teeth. They referred to it as “tooth mottling” and found that people with this issue had a surprising resistance to cavities.
Off to Idaho
In 1923, McKay went to Oakley, Idaho to look into an increase in tooth mottling. Parents in that area said the stains started appearing shortly after a communal water pipeline leading to a warm spring was constructed. McKay examined the pipeline and found that the water was normal. Even so, he advised that town leaders use a nearby spring instead. The brown stains disappeared within a few years.
Next, McKay traveled to Bauxite, Arkansas since residents were afflicted with mottled teeth. McKay had the town conduct a water study before be returned to Colorado. The town was owned by an aluminum plant, and their chief chemist H.V. Churchill found high levels of fluoride in the water.
He informed McKay of his findings and urged him to take samples of the water in Oakley and Colorado Springs. They determined that there were increased levels of fluoride in all three water sources, which was the cause of the tooth stains.
The Michigan Experiment
Dr. Elias Elvove and Dr. Trendley Dean from The National Institute of Health (NIH) investigated how water-borne fluoride affects teeth. By the late 1930s, the NIH concluded that fluoride would not cause tooth mottling, which was later renamed fluorosis, with levels up to 1.0 ppm (parts per million.)
In 1945, Grand Rapids, Michigan voted to add fluoride to their public drinking water to test if it would help fight tooth decay. After 11 years, the rate of cavities among children had dropped by over 60%. Today, drinking water in many cities as well as nearly every kind of toothpaste and mouthwash on the market contains fluoride.
About the Practice
Morgan-Hill Dental Care is led by Dr. Ted Morgan, Dr. Kelsey Hill, and Dr. Brett Morgan. Located in Gorham, they treat patients with a range of treatments they need for healthy, happy smiles. This includes treatments to prevent cavities, such as fluoride treatments to strengthen their beams against decay. If you are interested in setting up an appointment with Morgan-Hill Dental Care or want more information on their services, call their office at (207) 839-2655 or visit their website.