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February 17, 1945


JAMA. 1945;127(7):399-400. doi:10.1001/jama.1945.02860070031012

Twenty years ago attention was directed to the discovery of fluoride in domestic water supplies as the causative factor in dental fluorosis, or mottled enamel.1 In the intervening period intensive investigation has been made of the physiologic chemistry of this element with respect to its influence on the skeleton, its metabolic effects and its relation to dental caries. In view of the observation2 that fluorine in the drinking water is correlated with a significant decrease in dental caries, suggestions have been made that fluoride be added to city water supplies in areas where this element is absent. However, the need for caution has been repeatedly expressed, as several less desirable effects of ingested fluoride have been noted. One of these is the decrease in breaking strength of bones when fluoride is present in the diet.

A recent study of the influence of fluoride in domestic water on height,