1945 : Grand Rapids First City to Add Fluoride To Its Water Supply

January 25, 2023 all-day

On January 25, 1945, Grand Rapids became the first city in the world to add fluoride to its public water supply. The city, along with the U.S. Public Health Service, the Michigan Department of Health, and the University of Michigan School of Dentistry, began a ten-year study to determine the effectiveness of fluoride in the prevention of tooth decay, The city was chosen as a test site because of its large population of school-age children; its closeness to Lake Michigan, which is mostly free of natural fluoride; and its proximity to Muskegon, which served as the control city. By 1955 the study had shown a sixty-five percent reduction in tooth decay and led to the adoption of fluoridation as a accepted public health measure.

Source : The Beginning of Water Fluoridation, Michigan Historical Markers Website.

Source: Michigan History, January/February 2011.

For more information, see Water flouoridation wikipedia entry

For another article, see Eric D. Lawrence, “Some say fluoride fights decay, others say it’s a hazard in water”, Detroit Free Press, June 26, 2011. “In a dramatic reversal of a public health initiative aimed at stopping tooth decay in 1951, city commissioners voted 6-0 last month to stop fluoridation. The action, which city officials say would save more than $40,000 per year, comes as debate over fluoride’s benefits versus its possible adverse effects — ranging from spotted teeth to suspicions that it increases the risk of bone cancer — has gained new attention.”

Community Water Fluoridation: One of CDC’s “10 Great Public Health Achievements of the 20th Century”
Surgeon General in Public Health Reports.
Celebrates the benefits of fluoridation of community water systems in reducing the incidence of tooth decay on the 70th anniversary of the first implementation in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Also explains the reasons behind the first revision in fluoride recommendations since 1962.