It seems the whole country is trying to avoid BPA – in food storage containers, water bottles, cups, plastic baby toys. The “No BPA!” sticker is as popular as the “og Trans Fat” and “All Natural” labels I ranted about yesterday.
If bisphenol-A is bad – and I have to believe it is – then why would you want it in your mouth day and night? (photo source)
You might have heard over the last few years about people having their mercury fillings removed because of mercury toxicity. I know the few fillings in my mouth are the white composite stuff, so I didn’t really pay much attention to all the mercury information.
I should have known better. There’s always something, right?
The white composite fillings nearly all have BPA in them.
EDIT: as of 2016, this may not be true anymore. It sounds like some but not all may have BPA, so please ask your dentist to share the brand and/or MSDS on whatever is going into your mouth.
So if they’re constantly in your mouth, wouldn’t that be a little like sucking on a piece of plastic candy?
BPA is a known hormone disruptor, and in 2011, a study tied prenatal exposure to BPA with hyperactivity and anxiety in babies, especially girls. In July of this year, the FDA banned the use of BPA in baby bottles and children’s drinking cups. (source)
BPA is very pervasive: “National surveys conducted by the federal Center for Disease Control and Prevention have revealed measurable levels of BPA metabolites in the urine of more than 95 percent of U.S. residents, even though the compound has a short half-life and should be eliminated quickly from the body. That indicates that people are repeatedly and frequently exposed to BPA, experts say.” (source)
A study from last summer demonstrated a slight increase in behavioral issues in kids who had BPA-laden fillings vs. those who didn’t:
The new study published in Pediatrics suggests that as the composite fillings on chewing surfaces degrade, more BPA is released. While the children with silver amalgam fillings did not appear to suffer ill health effects associated with the fillings, kids with BPA-containing composite fillings were more likely to suffer from social stress, anxiety, depression, and difficulty forming relationships. These are similar problems previous researchers have associated with BPA exposure early in life. (source)
It’s thought that over time, the sealants break down and leach chemicals, especially since the worst results happened in children whose fillings were on the biting surfaces.
The increase in behavior problems was only by a few percentage points, which at first made me think that perhaps the media had overblown the story (it’s happened before).
Then I read this article in Science News, which says that yes, a few points IS a big deal. It would put a significant number of people “below the threshold of being able to effectively manage stress, anger, disappointment and relationships with family and others.” The author compares this drop to a 1 to 2-point drop in IQ level, the same relative decline: “Each 1 point drop in IQ will diminish an individual’s lifetime earnings potential.”
It will have an even greater impact as more and more preschool aged children suffer from ten or more cavities, as you can read about in this article. That’s not easy for anyone in the family!
What Can You Do?
The plan of defense for a concerned parent is this:
- If you need a filling, ask your dentist to look up the components of the composite. You’ll have to do some research and learn the terms of substances that are made from BPA or can degrade into BPA, like bis-DMA.
- Only allow fillings without BPA in your family’s mouths.
- Better yet: Try to avoid the need for fillings in the first place. Using proper diet and other oral health care techniques, you may be able to raise cavity-free children and even reverse tooth decay that is currently occurring. However, some cavities are simply unpreventable in spite of great diet and lifestyle.
Many of the other speakers bring vital information to the table including how to eat for oral health, the connection between oral health and cancer (Dr. Josef Issels says, “97% of all cancers have a causal relationship in the teeth, jaw and tonsils.”), how your total physical health impacts your mouth, and what to do about fluoride, mercury, crowns, and BPA.
Will Sealants Help?
You may have noticed that I didn’t include dental sealants on the list of defenses against cavities up there. There’s a reason for that: Sealants also are proven to release BPA into the mouth, at least within the first few hours after having one applied.
He Said, She Said: Is BPA in Sealants a Big Deal?
There’s evidence on both sides.
BPA in Sealants is not enough to matter
- BPA in dental sealants not a big deal: only in saliva a few hours after applying, not in bloodstream. below max acceptable level. “exposure to BPA from dental resins for both adults and children is minimal and poses no known risk to human health.” (source)
- The benefits of sealants in preventing kids’ cavities outweighed risks associated with bisphenol A, or BPA, the chemical linked to a host of health ills and banned by many plastic bottle manufacturers, researchers find in the report published in the latest issue of the journal Pediatrics.
“People shouldn’t be scared by this,” said Dr. Burton Edelstein, chairman of social and behavioral sciences at the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine and a co-author on the study. “The amount of exposure is extremely low. (source)
bpa in sealants is a problem
- Fred von Saal, a leading expert on BPA, believes that children should receive sealants only if they have a clear tendency to develop tooth decay.
“This chemical is one that you should not be exposed to at any level,” said von Saal, Curators’ professor of biology at the University of Missouri at Columbia. “There are lots of sources of BPA and you want to avoid anything that adds to your body’s burden. And the younger you are, the more sensitive you are to this chemical.” (source)
- BPA does indeed form in the mouth after some dental sealants and fillings are applied. BPA can be found in the saliva three hours after dental work is completed. It’s not at all clear whether this poses a health risk. (source)
If You Get Sealants, Pay Your Dentist for 30 More Seconds
Because the research is not showing that BPA leaches out of sealants over time like it seems to with fillings, it’s a different battle. The BPA is right on the surface, so scrubbing and rinsing sealants and fillings after they are applied removes 88% to 95% of the compounds that can become BPA. (Finally, some good news!)
If you opt for sealants, ask your dentist to do a good, hard scrub, rinse with water and suction a few times.
You could also seek a dentist who uses BPA-free sealants, like this one, which has been on the market for nine years. “Embrace WetBond Pit & Fissure Sealant is the only resin-based sealant that contains no BPA and no BPA derivatives.” (source)
Personally, I’d do a little more research before committing, since I’ve also been told that there are NO sealants without BPA available. This article has a pretty helpful and academic breakdown of why you might find a manufacturer claiming “BPA-free” when the sealant can still release BPA into your saliva.
Do you have sealants? Fillings? Questions?
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