By Dr. Gary Goldbaum and Stephen J. Lee, DDS
Twenty years ago this spring, the City of Everett began adding fluoride to its public drinking water. Fluoride exists naturally in virtually all water supplies. Water is "fluoridated" when a public water system adjusts the fluoride to a level known to prevent tooth decay. Fluoridation is simple, safe and inexpensive, and has contributed significantly to the remarkable decline in tooth decay in the United States since the practice began in 1945.
From the early 1970s to the present, the proportion of adolescents with tooth decay has decreased from 90 percent to 60 percent. Among adults the number of teeth with cavities decreased from 18 to 10. Although these are notable declines in tooth decay, it remains the most common chronic disease of childhood.