Posted on August 15, 2014
Pediatric Dentisty’s Threat from BPA?
Splashing over the news lately is the latest health scare. In Fort Collins, I have received many calls from parents and health professionals alike asking me to comment on BPA in dental materials and their threat to children’s health.
First let me give you a brief background. BPA, or Bisphenol A, is the molecule that polycarbonate plastics and epoxies can be made from. It is easy to produce and has been around for decades in everything from car parts, to cool looking water bottles, to DVD, to liners of metal food or beverage cans. It has been extensively studied by such agencies as the EPA and Food and Drug Administration.
In the 1930’s the BPA molecule was shown to have an effect of lab cells like estrogen, and in terms of dental materials, in the late 90’s this scare was revived after a Spanish lab found similar results. And recently, BPA has been linked to abnormal cell development in babies, premature puberty and evn diabetes and cancer. These effects are unproven but proposed. And, since the National Institute of Health and National Toxicology agencies, respond to public outcry, they have labeled BPA and “item of concern.” This labeling has fueled the fire for the “see, I told you it was bad!” outcry that has snowballed.
Now the science that has been done on BPA is extensive and no less than the EPA has found that a person would have to “ingest more than 1300 pounds of food and beverage in contact every day for an entire lifetime to exceed the safe level of BPA.” That’s because any leaching of BPA MOLECULE THAT ARE UNBOUND TO THE PLASTIC that occurs out of water bottles for example are on the order of less than 5 parts per BILLION. I know, I know, when I read that I thought the same thing, “all the fuss is over that?” Yea, well there is this very popular theory known as the Low-Dose Hypothesis, that is touted by lots of alternative medicine websites and media outlets. As near as I can figure, it goes something along the lines of: if huge quantities of something is bad for you, a trace amount might also be bad for you. It’s enough for write a bunch of articles on right? Oops, I guess I am doing that too!
But let’s get back to the point. In regards to dental plastics in your mouth such as composite fillings and sealants, need you be concerned with bad health effects? The simple answer is no. For products that do or have contained BPA, detectable levels are only found in saliva at the time of placement and only for a very short time. That’s the molecule on the surface of the fillings that doesn’t bind to the other molecules after light curing. You do not need to have these composites taken out or replaced, and for a dentist to suggest that would be unethical.
And now the punch line! For a long time now, dental supply companies have been aware of the bad press around BPA and they have changed formulas. Two of the most common dental composite brands, ivoclar and 3M ESPSE have letters stating none of their products contain BPA. The brand I most often use, Ultradent, also does not have BPA. I hope this article has helped shed some light on a technical subject. Please call or email me if you have any dental questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. I love what I do and I want to help you raise healthy and strong children! Yours, Greg Evans DDS