The practice of community water fluoridation began in 1945 in Grand Rapids Michigan when scientists discovered that dental caries could be prevented by adjusting the fluoride level in the community water supply. The results in Grand Rapids were so effective that major health organizations took note and prompted the rapid adoption of this public health measure in cities throughout the United States.
As knowledge about the benefits of fluoridated water grew, other sources were adopted and today we have fluoride in our toothpastes, gels, mouth rinses, and tablets. These other sources of fluoride are very effective in preventing tooth decay, however, they are also very dependent upon the frequency of use by the person or caregiver. In contrast, community water fluoridation is not dependent upon individual behavior and is able to reach even the most underserved populations in order to prevent the painful and sometimes deadly effects of tooth decay.
Community water fluoridation has been so successful in the United States in preventing dental caries, the CDC named it one of the ten greatest public health achievements of the 20th century.
To learn more about the history of community water fluoridation visit:
CDC: Community Water Fluoridation
Page last updated: August 23, 2017