5 Historical facts about “Colorado Brown Stains”


  1. In ancient times, Galen described what is thought to be dental fluorosis. However, it was not until the early 20th century that dental fluorosis became increasingly recognized and scientifically studied.
  2. In 1901 Eager published the first description of the “mottled enamel” of immigrants from a small village near Naples, Italy. He called the condition “Denti di Chiaie” (Chiaie teeth), named after Stefano Chiaie, an Italian professor.
  3. In the United States of America, a dentist, Frederick McKay, set up practice in Colorado Springs in 1901. He discovered a high proportion of the residents had stained teeth, locally termed the “Colorado brown stain”. He took this information to Greene Vardiman Black, a prominent American dentist of the time. After examining specimens of affected enamel, in 1916 Black described the condition as “[a]n endemic imperfection of the enamel of the teeth, heretofore unknown in the literature of dentistry.” 
  4. In 1931, three different groups of scientists around the world published their discoveries that this condition was caused by fluoride in drinking water during childhood. The condition then started to become termed “dental fluorosis”.
  5. Through epidemiological studies in the US, Henry Trendley Dean  produced a classification system for dental fluorosis that is still used in modern times as Dean’s Index.

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