Dentistry is the branch of medicine that focuses solely on teeth. Parents should be aware that while bringing their child for professional dental care is a must, there may be some risks associated with the task. Research has shown that some dental sealants and filling material used by dentists are slowly leaking Bisphenol A (BPA) into their children's body.
1-800-DENTIST describes dental sealants as being "Made of plastic resin, these tooth sealants are applied to the grooves of premolars and molars to 'seal out' cavity-causing bacteria and food". Depending on the state where dental care is received, the devices are applied either by a dentist or a dental hygienist as a type of preventative dentistry strategy to lower the odds of children developing tooth decay and cavities. The devices are incredibly effective in that capacity, however research conducted over the past few years have indicated that BPA, a organic compound used in the manufacturing of plastics since the 1960s, may seep out of the dental treatments over time and potentially put children's oral health and wellness in jeopardy.
Buzz surrounding BPA kicked off in 2009 when American health agencies started to release documentation regarding the level of BPA in consumer products. In response to the concerns, the government authorized millions of dollars in grant money to research the issue. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) National Center for Toxicological Research has been conducting research on the effects of the additive as well as implementing a multitude of steps to limit the exposure to humans via food containers, baby bottles and infant feeding cups via the manufacturing process.
The discovery of Bisphenol A (AKA BPA) can be traced back to Russian chemist Aleksandr P. Dianin. Dianin first invented the compound in 1914 and since that time, contemporary man has manufactured billions of pounds of consumer products featuring the additive. Most government agencies believe BPA is safe especially when used to manufacturer including sports equipment, eyeglass lenses and electronics.
The major concerns surround the unintentional consumption of the chemical and humans absorb too much of the stuff annually. When combined with liquid, BPA can be released from a number of consumer products. Research has shown indicated that 92 percent of all canned foods have traces of BPA because of that liquid/solid relationship. The same stands true for dental sealants as they are exposed to saliva 24/7 and can create BPA leaking and accidentally be ingested/
Dr. Abby F. Fleisch, a pediatrician in the department of medicine at Children's Hospital Boston, authored the study on the BPA dental treatment connection. Her findings suggested that while dental sealants and fillings do not contain pure doses of BPA, over time saliva and enzymes can force those dental treatments to weaken. As the devices break down, BPA will be released. At this point the long-term effects in humans have yet to be identified.
Despite the concerns surrounding the issue, the American Dental Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still believe that the benefits of the dental treatments far outweigh the risks associated with trace elements of BPA that may be released (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/21/health/21well.html).
Until attention was focused on the issue, the most extensive research on BPA was conducted on laboratory animals, not humans. Using that research, scientists have found that BPA is like estrogen (female sex hormone) in regards to how it impacts the body. Unusual levels of estrogen have been linked to causing conditions such as breast cancer, mood swings, strokes and deep vein thrombosis. When it comes to BPA, the chemical has been linked to:
- Childhood asthma
- Puberty acceleration
- Sexual dysfunction
- Ovarian Cysts
- Poses threats to the brain, prostate and other organs.
Because major government authorities have deemed the substance safe, BPA is still used in many plastics and manufacturing. In order to minimize the risk of accidentally consuming the toxin, individuals can follow some safety precautions including:
- When ever possible, choose fresh, organic foods over canned goods. Many cans are lined with a plastic coating containing BPA and the foods inside are in some type of liquid, upping the odds of seepage.
- Only use microwave safe dishware when using that device to cook food. Plastic containers can leak the chemical when heated.
- Plastics should be washed by hand, not the dishwasher as that can release BPA.
- New parents should always choose powdered baby formula versus liquid as liquid may increase toxin leakage.
- All plastic consumer products are marked with a number on the bottom. Shoppers should skip any item packaged in plastics labeled with code #7 and should look for #1, #2 and #4 codes instead.
- Skip bottled water, tap water may be a healthier option.
Parents should in no way avoid bringing their child to the dentist because of the issue and instead should have a conversation with their child's dental care provider. A dentist will be familiar with the studies and can choose filling and sealant options that have not been linked to the BPA controversy, because not all of them have been. Caregivers looking for a dentist can call 1-800-DENTIST to get the name of a local provider 24/7.