Dental sealants and composites have been used for many years. Sealants prevent tooth decay and composites are tooth colored dental fillings.
Resin-based sealants and composites are made from plastic. Some types of plastic have been in the news lately because of a chemical called BPA, a chemical that acts like estrogen. Some studies with laboratory animals suggest a disruption in normal hormone activity. This has led to speculation about the effect of BPA on humans.
An article that was just published in a medical journal assessed various existing studies on dental materials and BPA. A low level of BPA may be present in the saliva a few hours after placement of resin-based sealants, but based on current evidence, the American Dental Association believes that this low level and brief exposure time poses no known health risk.
Trace amounts of BPA may be present as a byproduct of the manufacturing process or with certain sealants (those with bis DMA) after coming in contact with enzymes in saliva.
The one-time exposure to BPA from sealants is about 200 times lower than the daily level EPA considers safe. Dental materials are far less likely to cause BPA exposure than other consumer goods such as plastic bottles and linings of metal cans.
The researchers say sealants and composites should continue to be used because of their proven benefits which outweigh potential risks of BPA. The researchers also say that BPA exposure can be reduced if a newly-placed sealant or composite filling is rinsed or wiped.
I have composite dental fillings, and my children have had dental sealants.
As your dentist, I want to answer any questions you may have about your dental treatment. You can also visit the American Dental Association’s Web site at ADA.org for more information.
Kendall Pyper, DDS