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7/16/2017 1:15:00 PM
IU dental school pioneered use of fluoride
In this file photo from the Indiana University School of Dentistry, Dr. Joseph C. Muhler presents toothpaste and tooth brushes to two of the 12,000 young volunteers who took part in tests of a stannous fluoride toothpaste.
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In this file photo from the Indiana University School of Dentistry, Dr. Joseph C. Muhler presents toothpaste and tooth brushes to two of the 12,000 young volunteers who took part in tests of a stannous fluoride toothpaste.

Rebecca R. Bibbs, Herald Bulletin

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana University School of Dentistry, one of the oldest in the U.S., has been a pioneer in the use of fluoride.

In fact, scientists there, including biochemist Joseph C. Muhler, Harry Day and William H. Nebergall developed a popular source of fluoride, Crest toothpaste. A native of Fort Wayne, Muhler started experimentation with 100 types of fluoride in 1945 and was backed by Procter & Gamble by 1950.

After testing it on 12,000 young Hoosier volunteers, Muhler determined the new toothpaste resulted in a 49 percent reduction in cavities in children ages 6 to 16, said the I.U. School of Dentistry’s website. The results were similar for adults.

Crest was introduced to the public in 1954 as Fluoristan because it contained stannous fluoride, which Muhler had determined was most effective in hardening tooth enamel. The name was changed a year later to Crest with Flouristan.

The toothpaste gained popularity in 1960 when the American Dental Association gave its stamp of approval.

The formula for Crest has changed several times over the years. In 1981, the active ingredient was changed to f luoristat, and today the active ingredient is sodium fluoride.

Crest ProHealth, however, has returned to the toothpaste’s formulaic roots with some of the many toothpaste types within the brand once again containing stannous fluoride.

The royalties paid by Procter & Gamble financed the dental school’s 1968 construction of the Indiana University Oral Health Research Institute, considered by some to be one of the premier product-testing sites in the world.

Related Stories:
• In some areas, fluoride debate rages
• A short history of the discovery and use of fluoride

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