DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The debate on fluoride in the Dallas public water system was heard again at city hall Tuesday.

Fluoride is a mineral that naturally occurs in small amounts in Dallas water or even  in some foods. What the city does is add enough chemical fluoride to reach .7 parts per million, a level recommended for optimum dental health by federal and professional dental groups.

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But many younger Americans aren’t familiar with it. “I never had any problems, I never had a cavity,” Rachael Timm told CBS 11 News. And many in her generation aren’t familiar with fluoride, even though their teeth may have benefitted from it for years.

“From what I’ve read it seems relatively safe.  And not have horrible things,” said another younger man, Jame Vahala.

Some older Americans, though, worry it’s one too many chemicals. Especially Baby Boomers who have consumed fluoridated water for decades, such as Rob Mayes.

“Right now, the way I’m living, especially at my age I am concerned about the different chemicals that are that are in our foods, and even in our water.” But he admits he doesn’t know much about fluoride’s supposed risks. “I can’t give you any real scientific reasons why I don’t want it in there, but I don’t.”

Dallas spends about $600,000 a year on fluoride through a contract up for renewal early next year. Council members on the Quality of Life Committee quizzed staffers on both the cost and health issues.  Sheffie Kadane asked if they had seen warning labels on some tubes of toothpaste.  “And have you read the disclaimer on it which says, ‘Do not swallow?’ And, ‘If you do swallow this toothpaste go get your stomach pumped?'”

But staff pointed out those brands have 10-12 times the amount of fluoride found in city drinking water.

Dr. Lawrence Wolinsky is Dean of the Texas A&M-Baylor College of Dentistry in Dallas.

“We believe from a public health standpoint that it’s extremely important to keep fluoride in the public water systems in Dallas.”

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Dr. Wolinsky says there are no clinical studies showing that fluoride is unsafe. “Fluoride has a significant benefit to hardening tooth enamel and making it more resistant to tooth decay.”

And  he says the $600,000 a year is an economical cost for the city.

“About .25 cents per person per year,” he said adding, “If you look at a typical silver filling it could cost anywhere from $85-$150.”

The committee didn’t take any action, which effectively leaves the fluoride in the water. In fact there wasn’t a quorum during the discussion, so technically it was an information-only briefing.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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