Tooth Sealant and BPA

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When deciding the best option for your child's dental health, safety comes first. But there are two sides to the discussion on tooth sealant when it includes BPA.

A manmade chemical, BPA may exist in small amounts in sealants, and there are concerns over its safety. However, dental sealants in and of themselves are proven to protect teeth against decay, and scientists have not yet clearly established a risk from BPA when used in a sealant.

Bisphenol A

BPA is the abbreviation for a chemical called bisphenol A, which is found in food can linings, water bottles, polycarbonate food and drink containers, carbonless receipts, CDs, DVDs and other everyday products. BPA can be also found in tiny amounts in dental fillings and dental sealants, and although the body breaks it down quickly while it is present, it mimics the effects of estrogen – which some scientists believe may lead to increased risk of disease.

According to the University of Michigan, several scientific studies have linked BPA to negative health effects. These include obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, alterations in liver enzymes, an increased risk of miscarriage and polycystic ovary syndrome. Exposure to BPA in the womb may also hold a connection to low birth weight, imperfect brain development and higher postnatal growth rates.

How It Affects Dental Sealants

Manufacturing processes may leave trace amounts of BPA in tooth sealant, and some sealant ingredients release the product when they break down in the mouth as a result. The American Dental Association (ADA) explains that BPA is the starting ingredient for producing some sealant materials. So after their production, there is likely to be a tiny amount of the original ingredient still remaining, which could be absorbed.

Tooth sealant also doesn't last forever; over time, saliva and chewing do break it down. When this occurs, BPA may appear in the mouth in small quantities, making it easy to be ingested or absorbed through the gums and oral tissue.

Risks and Benefits

The risks of the BPA present in some dental sealants are uncertain, but the benefits of sealants are much more clear. Most Americans are regularly exposed to BPA, but not from tooth sealant they may have received. As quoted by the ADA, the U.S. National Toxicology Program explains that most exposure to BPA comes from food and drink packaging, rather than dental products. The ADA also echoes this program in that BPA exposure from tooth sealant carries no known threat to a person's health, at least in the amounts held by a dental restoration.

Children should always brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste – using products like Colgate® Monster High Mild Bubble Fruit® to make it fun – and floss once a day for the in-between protection, but dental sealants still play an important role in protecting the pits and fissures of their back molars. Dentists have used sealants for many years to effectively reduce cavities in these areas. The ADA quotes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in reporting that among children ages six to 19, tooth decay is the most common chronic disease, causing toothache, dysfunction, poor facial appearance and the spread of infection.

Parents naturally want to protect their children from known and unknown dangers, and only they can decide on such an important issue related to their child's health. Looking at the evidence and the advice given by reputable organizations in the dental community can help you make the right choice for your family.

Teeth are sealed, what’s next?

Brushing is still important even after sealants. Try one of these products to help keep your teeth clean and healthy.