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De drinkwaterfluoridering in Nederland, 1946-1976. Een maatschappelijk debat zonder winnaars of verliezers

Author(s): Dennis Edeler | Michiel Eijkman

Journal: Studium : Tijdschrift voor Wetenschaps- en Universiteits-Geschiedenis
ISSN 1876-9055

Volume: 5;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 80;
Date: 2012;
Original page

Keywords: water fluoridation | public health | social change and dentistry

The fluoridation of drinking water in the Netherlands, 1946-1976.A debate without a winner or a loser During the period 1946–1960, as a result of the shortage of dentists and the large number of dental caries under the Dutch population, the need of dental care was enormous. But there was a solution. It was commonly known that fluoride could be an effective prevention tool in dental care. Based on the American research this knowledge concerning the possibilities of applying fluoride to drinking water reached The Netherlands. In the period 1960–1968 the powerful coalition of dentistry, government and politicians tried to implement decentralized water fluoridation at municipal level to reduce the high level of dental caries in The Netherlands. By advice of the Health Council the ministry of Social Affairs decided by means of a license system under the water control law to permit water fluoridation in (municipal) care areas. In 1968 optimism dominated despite some criticism. The number of people who consumed fluoridated water increased up to two and a half millions in this period and initially it seemed like the growth was endless. Dentistry, government and politicians have been united in a pow- erful coalition. During the last period, 1968–1976, legal arguments were predominant leading for the outcome of the debate over water fluoridation in the public domain. The powerful coalition between the dentistry, government and politicians was disturbed. Despite lack of a legal base in the Water Supply Act, the decentralized implementation of water fluoridation, the loss of scientific independence of the Tiel-Culemborg researchers, not wanting to hear from the government to the (legal) advice and opponents, the increase assertiveness in the media, the powerful influence of dissent and the passive role of the Parliament have all resulted that this collective arrangement of public health inglorious disappeared from off the public and political agenda after 1976.
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