Most consumers already know that fluoride is often added to municipal drinking water. But most of us do not know the reason it is added or who started this trend. Here is a brief history of how fluoride became a part of our drinking water.
In 1901, a dentist named Frederick S. McKay noticed many of his patients had brown, mottled teeth. The teeth were ugly, to be sure, but they were also very resistant to normal tooth decay.
Dr. McKay began collecting water samples from several areas where the onset of these brown teeth was common. He sent the samples to a lab that used a new technique, spectrographic analysis. The lab reported concentrations of fluoride in the water samples as high as 12 parts per million (ppm), and studies later proved it was this fluoride that caused the brown teeth.
In 1938, it was confirmed that drinking fluorine-contaminated water resulted in fewer cavities. In 1944, The New York Times reported that the New York State Department of Health would begin fluoridating the city water in Newburgh. NY to a level of one part per million. They would then compare the results with the dental health of those living in Kingston, NY, where the water remained fluoride-free.
By 1951, dozens of other water systems, all across the US, had begun adding fluoride to their water.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 60 percent of Americans now drink fluoridated water.
However, many consumers now believe that too much fluoride is being ingested. This is because many toothpaste and mouthwash products also contain fluoride. Too much fluoride will lead to mottled teeth, as mentioned above. Other consumers simply do not want the chemical added to the drinking water at all. For this reason, water filters have been designed that remove fluoride from tap water.
A good-quality fluoride water filter that is rated for fluoride removal will remove the chemical before it is ingested. These water filters can be found as smaller units that are attached at the point of use or they can be found as whole house water filtering systems that filter all water as it enters the home.