It all started out as an experiment on January 25th, 1945...
The city of Grand Rapids, MI became the first city in the United States to to add fluoride to the water. It was part of a controlled study to prevent tooth decay. The process was also done in other cities around the world in Canada, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the U.K. The process worked to prevent tooth decay and soon the process of fluoridating the water spread across the nation and the world.
With major cities adding fluoride to their water, it reduced tooth decay by 50-60%, especially in children, according to the American Dental Association. The Centers for Disease Control even named community water fluoridation one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.
According to the CDC, community water fluoridation is recommended by nearly all public health, medical and dental organizations, including the American Dental Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, U.S. Public Health Service and World Health Organization.
The process of adding fluoride to the community's water system doesn't come without some debate. Some people are opposed to the process and would like to have water without the fluoridation. While fluoride protects tooth enamel, it is toxic in concentrated form. Fluoride can be filtered out of the water with a reverse osmosis water filter system, but those can be costly.
Fluoridation of the water means one part per million of fluoride is added to the water supply. (The optimum level, according to the Centers for Disease Control, falls between 0.7 and 1.2 ppm.) Fluoride is a compound of Fluorine that can be found in almost everything. In mammals, the highest natural concentration of fluoride is found in our bones and teeth.
When fluoride was first introduced into our water, it was at the same time of the escalating Cold War hysteria. Some thought the process was a communist plot to bring the country to its knees by poisoning the water supply. Of course the Russian-conspiracy theory was completely bogus, but the health concern about fluoridation remained.
Here is a video explaining the good, the bad, and the ugly of fluoride in the water...