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Would You Suck on a Piece of BPA Candy?

A dentist working on a patient

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.

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)

RELATED: What is Xylitol?

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)

Plastic water bottles

photo 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!

RELATED: Wisdom Teeth Surgery Without Anesthesia or Prescription Painkillers

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.

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?

A dental professional in blue scrubs and a surgical mask holding an extracted tooth with a dental tool

photo source

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?

Is There a HOLISTIC Dentist Hiding In Your Town?

Robyn Openshaw over at Green Smoothie Girl spent months calling every holistic dentist she could find in the U.S! She learned what services each of them provide, and made a special guide so you can find a holistic dentist who uses practices that are non-toxic, so you can avoid heavy metals, root canals, radioactive x-rays, and more. She’s made all the information she gathered available for free in one amazing resource, The Insider’s Guide to Holistic Dentists.

Is There a HOLISTIC Dentist Hiding In Your Town?

Robyn Openshaw over at Green Smoothie Girl spent months calling every holistic dentist she could find in the U.S! She learned what services each of them provide, and made a special guide so you can find a holistic dentist who uses practices that are non-toxic, so you can avoid heavy metals, root canals, radioactive x-rays, and more.

She’s made all the information she gathered available for free in one amazing resource, The Insider’s Guide to Holistic Dentists.

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34 thoughts on “Would You Suck on a Piece of BPA Candy?”

  1. Just a quick comment to beg that you change the tone of your section on ‘what you can do.’ This information is so valuable and I deeply appreciate the time you took to put it together. However, in researching my options for treating my three year old daughter, whose upper incisors are quite literally melting out of her mouth, I have encountered a legion of differing opinions united by one common theme: the paternalistic, patronizing notion that cavities are easily avoided and therefore early childhood decay is the fault of lazy, irresponsible, stupid, or weak parents (nicely captured by the CBC article you link to). Whether it’s mainstream toxin defenders or Ramiel Nigel and Weston A Price warriors, the majority snidely advise that IF ONLY parents would step up, these children could be free from suffering. I can tell you that, in my case, we took every recommended precaution in her first two years and tried everything we could to “heal” (or even slow) the decay as it evolved in her third, all to absolutely no avail. Her diet was incredible, she willingly ate organ meat, slurped bone broths, scarfed veggies, and came for her FCLO, HVBO, vitd, probiotic, and multi. She never had juice, processed foods, or processed sugar, and only rarely had carbs in those first two years. We brushed her teeth religiously twice a day with a tincture our naturopath made along with her toothpaste (despite the screaming the CBC article disdainfully alludes to), and as soon as she could do it without swallowing she started chewing xylitol gum. My dentist, however, is so steeped in this culture of parental culpability that she is unwilling to pursue any other avenues (i.e., figure out what is actually causing the decay). There are many contributing factors that go unacknowledged (such as genetic susceptibility, deficient enamel due to impact or illness during pregnancy, inherited oral flora) for the sake of putting parents on the altar. Instead of unqualified statements like “Better yet: avoid the need for fillings in the first place. Using proper diet and other oral health care techniques, you can raise cavity-free children and even reverse tooth decay that is currently occurring,” maybe we could acknowledge the numerous sources of tooth decay, the complexity of the problem, and the steps that can be taken. Not all decay is the result of poor oral care and/or poor diet, and you can bet that anyone reading your blog about BPA is quite unlikely to be putting their kids to bed with a bottle of Pepsi after a dinner of processed sugar and white carbs. Let’s quit looking down our noses at those struggling desperately with early childhood caries, please.

    1. Thank you so much for this, Steph – I appreciate the reminder, and now that it’s a few years later and I’m struggling with cavities myself (ugh, not enough brushing, I guarantee that) and my oldest has a small one in a molar, I have an appt. for sealants because I don’t know what else to do!

      I totally updated the post and I hope it sounds better to you – I’m so sorry you’re dealing with these dental carries; you’ve done an amazing job with all those healthy habits! We humans are just too complex to have one set of standards apply evenly to everyone… 🙁 Katie

  2. Hi,
    I am a 29 year old male. I have peripheral neuropathy and I am about to get a root canal, dental filling and crown on one of my teeth. I am worried that the material that my dentist may use may not be biocompatible with my existing illness and might aggravate it. Please advise me on the dental material for filling, crown and sealant that in your opinion are the most biocompatible an don’t leech harmful chemicals into the mouth and body.
    Thanks.

  3. No composite contains BPA. they contain BPA derivatives. saliva and enzymes can degrade them back into BPA. Composites degrade and release BPA byproducts through time and they can be absorbed through the mucosal membranes and ingested which even in very low quantities can have adverse health effects.

    As you can see from the ADA study, composites claiming that are free of BPA are not necessarily so. Venus for example, seems deceptive when it claims to not have BPA nor bis-GMA yet it doesn’t reveal that it does contains bis-EDMA which caused it to release the highest BPA levels of all composites. http://www.ada.org/en/publications/ada-professional-product-review-ppr/archives/2014/july/determination-of-bisphenol-a-released-from-resin-based-dental-composite-restoratives

  4. i recently had my amalgam fillings removed and then had 6 white composite fillings ( SonicFill) but aterwards discovered it was composed of 1-5% BPA.
    What do i do?
    Get them replaced with a supposedly BPA product?

  5. So irritating to find this out! I just graduated in December and took a toxicology class my freshman year, which of course, leads me to be paranoid about several chemicals, including phthalates, fragrances, and BPA. I’ve had composite in my mouth since I was 11 and I’m at the point where I have to replace one of them on Monday. I just googled to see how long composites were supposed to last me and I end up finding a link between BPA and composites instead! My ten year old sister has a few composites as well and I definitely try to look at the things surrounding her to make sure she’s safe. She happened to be three when every toy I bought her for her birthday was recalled for lead, so I’ve always tried to be aware. At this point, it wouldn’t make sense to call and to ask whether there’s BPA in the fillings.. but it definitely makes me want to make sure my sister doesn’t have to get anymore! Ugh

  6. my holistic dentist recommends gold fillings. i was surprised when he recommended it (they seem old fashioned!) but he says they will last a lifetime while composite fillings simply don’t. and he didn’t even mention the BPA part, which would have also convinced me!

    the problem with gold is that they cost about 3x as much. but you are saving money in the long run if you are avoiding other health problems!

  7. We’re doomed if we do, we’re doomed if we don’t. It turns out that everything in one way or another is bad for us. And why did I not know about this until my children have had fillings and sealants for 7+ years in their mouths? It’s craziness! Sorry for the rant! I just get fed up with the fact that these things are used knowing that they are bad for us. I never even thought about sealants or nonmercury fillings being bad for us. I feel like my efforts to keep my children healthy are useless. On a positive note, I do enjoy reading your articles as I try to help my family live a healthy life.

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Shirley,
      We all hit those points – like the gal above said, at least the sealants only are a problem for a day or so. We just have to do our best and hug them tightly, because that’s the best thing we can do for them every day! 🙂 Katie

  8. Sealants are a matter of confusion for me still, mainly because of a great personal experience. I’ve had them since childhood and largely credit them with keeping me cavity-free. I’m almost 28, ate the SAD for most of my life until the last couple of years, had a huge sweet tooth as a kid, been pregnant or nursing for 6 years straight and still have never had a single cavity. Nor did I ever have any behavior or learning troubles. I’m like the poster child for sealants. 🙂 It’s good to know that at least they only leach BPA for the first little bit and it’s not still floating around in my system.

    I’m listening to the OraWellness Summit too, so hopefully one of the presenters will cover sealants because I’m still deciding whether to let my kiddos get them or not. Luckily we have a few years to decide still.

  9. Holly Miller Thisse – first, I don’t think rice has been a problem for years, just recently…and also I think that story may have been overblown by the media…??? You know breast is best, so count the good and amazing things you’ve done for your kiddos, too! 😉

  10. Holly via Facebook

    Alas, you are right on. I think if it were just me it would be easier. But as I am breastfeeding baby #6 it makes you feel horrible that things you’ve done to help your children be healthier is in fact poisoning them. Like the arsenic-laced rice milk I’ve been feeding everyone for years…..

  11. I just have to say I think it’s somewhat misguided whenever people or industries talk about something that is still plastic/resin being “BPA free”. The fact is that BPA is something that has been isolated & identified, but that doesn’t mean that whatever replaces it is any better or different. I’ve already heard news coming out & expect to hear more that other components in “BPA free” plastics are similar to BPA in behavior/effect. I have several composite and metal fillings in my mouth. Nothing I can do about it. I touch BPA laced receipts everyday. I drink water from plastic bottles sometimes. I do, sometimes, (gasp) eat fast food or restaurant food which contains who knows what. I am sure I am exposed to a multitude of toxins every single day in small and big ways. I try to limit my exposure as much as I can, keep my body as healthy as I can (so it can filter out some of the toxins for me), educate myself on what I can control, and the rest I just have to let go of. Just my thoughts!

  12. This is really upsetting… Even though we are eating whole foods, my eldest, now 6 has had a few cavities and white fillings. Would you have recommendations as to what to do if someone has had these fillings done ? Thank you so much for your hard work, Katie. We’re learning so much, thanks to you.

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Anne,
      I wish I knew! I just found out about the BPA myself Thursday night while checking out the summit topics. I do recommend listening in on the summit, and hopefully we’ll learn something. ??? I wish I had an answer for you, other than “we can’t worry about everything.” Katie

    2. We are in the same situation. We just learned through Xrays that my 8 year old has 6 cavities (all between teeth). We rarely allow sugar and eat a whole foods diet. The dentist says her composite fillings do not have BPA…but I do not know if they degrade into BPA… so hard to know what to do. We are trying to reverse the cavities but my husband does not want us to wait to see if we can do this…. Urgh.

  13. Holly Miller Thisse I heard someone quip that we all have cancer in there, it’s just a matter of how old we are when it surfaces and if we die before it gets there. But…let us remember that our goal on earth is not to live comfortably, but to love, serve and glorify God. I do think it’s okay to be outraged, and it’s okay to have days where you don’t have enough left in the tank to care…promise, we’ve all been there.

  14. so, if your child absolutely has a cavity big enough to warrant a filling, what type do you recommend? my family has a history of not strong enamel on teeth and we eat a whole food diet, little sugar, and my 2 oldest still have fillings! i paid extra for the white composite because our insurance only covered the mercury and i was not putting that in their mouths. suggestions? i would love ideas.

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Charis,
      Never an easy situation! I hear you, loud and clear. Unfortunately, this is where my knowledge ends, so far. I just read the BPA dealie last night while looking into the topics at the HealThy Mouth summit, and I researched them for the post, but I don’t have a lot of answers. Since they’re already in, there’s probably nothing to do – unless one of the summit speakers has a solution! I think there are some non-BPA fillings, but you have to look for them. I do recommend signing up for the summit and picking a few talks to listen to. Good luck! 🙂 Katie

    2. Xylitol…. Read up on its benefits and buy some ASAP…. It strengthens enamel and much more…. not saying that it works to fill a cavity but it actually works to reverse cavities and rebuild teeth……just an idea. Natural toothpastes and mouthwashes with xylitol in them

  15. Katie!! What??? I just had white composite fillings this year (my first ever) and I am so disappointed to read this news!

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Katherine,
      Never would have thought it myself until last night! We just have to keep living, though…
      🙂 Katie

    2. BPA Free Composite Resins

      Admira®

      Admira® highly esthetic universal micro-hybrid composite for anterior and posterior fillings is BPA-free.

      Venus Diamond Flow

      Venus Diamond Flow is a flowable, nanohybrid composite from Heraeus that can be used to create aesthetically perfect, durable restorations. Venus Diamond Flow possesses optimal handling properties and produces an excellent match to the shade of the adjacent teeth thanks to its innovative diamond formula.

      1. Hi Linda, I am a dentist and was wondering how you came up with this list of bpa free ones? What about the bond needed before placing them? Do you know of a bpa free bond?

  16. Holly via Facebook

    This outrages me! Some days it’s really hard to care. Aren’t we all just going to get cancer anyway?!? Sheesh!

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