In the early part of the 20th century, a Colorado Springs dentist, where fluoride occurs naturally in many wells, observed that some of his patients had lower tooth decay. Organized dentistry led the way in the coming decades to promote water fluoridation as a cost effective method of decay prevention.

In many Michigan communities water is fluoridated. With every glass of fluoridated water you drink, you’re getting a healthy dose of nature’s cavity fighter. Proclaimed one of the ten great public health achievements of the 20th century by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, community water fluoridation began in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1945.

If you live in a community that has municipal water supply, then you probably get fluoride in your tap water. Water fluoridation is simply the process of adjusting the natural level of fluoride in your water supply to an amount that will protect against tooth decay. A range of between 0.7 parts per million and 1.2 parts per million, depending upon the geographic area, has been determined to be the optimal amount to prevent dental decay.

Since its introduction, fluoridation has proven to be a simple, inexpensive, safe and effective way to dramatically reduce the rate of tooth decay in children and adults. In fact, water fluoridation can reduce the amount of decay in children’s teeth by as much as 60 percent and adults by nearly 35 percent, providing a life-long health benefit. It also helps keep dental health costs down. It’s estimated that every dollar spent on fluoridation saves more than $80 in preventive dental health costs.

Many communities depend on wells for drinking water and the levels of fluoride may vary considerably or be nonexistent. What can you do if your home has well water? Have your well tested. Some Michigan wells have naturally occurring fluoride. Kits for fluoride testing of well water can be obtained from the State of Michigan DEQ and many Michigan Dental Association dentists have them as well. The kits are free and the tests are performed by the State of Michigan for a nominal fee. After the results come back your dentist can determine the optimum fluoride for you and your family and can prescribe inexpensive daily fluoride supplements.