Changing the Face of America: Water Fluoridation and Oral Health

Brian A. Burt and Scott L. Tomar

in Silent Victories

Published in print December 2006 | ISBN: 9780195150698
Published online September 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780199865185 | DOI:
 Changing the Face of America: Water Fluoridation and Oral Health

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During the early- to mid-1900s, dental caries (i.e., tooth decay), frequently associated with uncomfortable treatment and tooth loss, was one of life's less pleasant certainties. However, the dental health outlook for Americans growing up during the later part of the 1900s was quite different. Substantial improvements in oral health were the result of many factors, including rising standards of living, better treatment technology, and more positive attitudes toward oral health. However, the widescale exposure of Americans to fluoride also played a crucial role. The concept of water fluoridation as tool for oral health began with studies which revealed that routine exposure to fluoride reduced the incidence and severity of dental caries. By the start of the 21st century, more than half of the U.S. population had access to fluoridated water. This chapter traces the historical development of fluoride as a tool for preventing dental caries.

Keywords: 20th century; public health; oral health; caries; tooth decay; fluoridation; dental health

Chapter.  7308 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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