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A behind-the-scenes look
at a 20th-century achievement in science and health

Again, we don't know what the kids here were really saying, but 14 cavities was typical for kids before fluoridation. And we do know what at least one kid thought. Chase Klinesteker today is a dentist. But in 1945, he was a kindergartener in Grand Rapids. He remembers giving saliva samples and getting dental exams as part of the research on fluoride and tooth decay. He says sample containers included wax to chew and a glass bottle to spit in. Imagine that! Sanctioned spitting in school!

Dr. Klinesteker's father was also a dentist, and through his family connections, he also knew other dentists serving Grand Rapids before and after fluoridation. Before fluoridation, tooth decay was so rampant in the area that Grand Rapids dentists had wild stories. One dentist, Dr. Bill VerMeulen would be booked solid on Saturdays to work on teenagers' dental problems ... what was he doing? Removing all of their teeth and giving them dentures! For teenagers! Another estimated that three-quarters of his practice before fluoridation was extractions and dentures.

What else do we know about this work on fluoride in Michigan back in the 1940s and 1950s?

We know that this historic study of fluoridation resulted in a multitude of publications in premier journals ... such as...

  • ... the Journal of Public Health Dentistry
  • ... Public Health Reports
  • ... the Journal of the American Dental Association
  • ... and the American Journal of Public Health.

But ...

For our purposes here ... What is really important to know ...

What's critical to see in our look at this 20th-century public health achievement is...

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identified this research in Michigan as a cornerstone of a broad and rich history of fluoridation and fluoride science.

A key piece in a decades-long quest in dental health. A quest that resulted in our modern-day use of fluoride at low levels — for its benefits — as well as our modern-day control of the dangers of too much fluoride.

The details of that history of fluoride — and CDC's review of fluoridation as one of the greatest accomplishments in public health — are the focus of this e-book. Read on to delve into our re-telling of CDC's 4th public health achievement ...


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