2020 marks the 75th anniversary of one of the world’s most dramatic public health initiatives, a public health project that dramatically improved the oral health of millions of people, not only in the United States but throughout the world. On Jan. 25, 1945, the Grand Rapids Study was launched and the Furniture City became the world’s first to adjust the fluoride level of its public water supply.

This landmark trial established the use of fluoridation as a safe, effective, and economical public health measure to prevent tooth decay.

How the Grand Rapids Study began is a fascinating story. Even though many of Michigan’s dentists may be familiar with the history of the study, it bears repeating, and we’ve elected to up- date this article, which was first published in 1994.1 Sources for that story include “Fluoridation: The Grand Rapids Victory,” prepared in 1988 by the National Institute of Dental Research. This article updates and augments content from “The Story of Fluoridation” found on the NIDCR web- site with Proceedings of the International Symposium Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Water Fluoridation.