Our dentist recently recommended that my son get 4 sealants put on his teeth. I scheduled him for an appointment, then realized that I should probably do more research on what exactly was going into his mouth.
After looking at a few research sites, it became apparent that sealants are not a benign compound, but may have some potential risks. Tooth sealants, or dental sealants, are made of plastic that a dentist bonds into the grooves of the chewing surface of a tooth to help prevent cavities.
What kind of plastic? A plastic known as Bisphenol-A (BPA). This type of plastic is an estrogen compound that has been linked to an increase risk of breast and prostate cancers, low sperm counts, and female infertility at very low levels of exposure. It is also known as an endocrine disruptor. Pregnant women should probably not have their teeth sealed since endocrine disruptors primarily effect the unborn child. Bisphenol-A can also be found in some polycarbonate plastics, #7 PC, in food can linings, baby bottles, 5-gallon water jugs, and Lexan or Nalgene water bottles.
So how much is too much?
In 1996, Nicolas Olea and coworkers at the University of Granada in Spain reported detectable amounts of bisphenol-A in the saliva of patients treated with dental sealants. More studies were released due to the concern of this chemical. Theses studies showed that low levels of BPA were detected in the saliva of people treated with sealants in the hours immediately following application, but no BPA was detected in the bloodstream.
The more studies I read, the more I got numbers such as 5.8 ppb, or 931 ug, 1ug BPA/mg sealant, etc. Alot of mumbo-jumbo numbers that don’t really tell me the safety of this plastic in my child’s mouth.
The conclusion was that exposure to BPA is less than the maximum acceptable or “reference ” dose of 0.05mg per kilogram of body weight per day. In other words, human exposure to BPA from dental sealants is minimal and poses no known health risk.
By the way, these studies were brought to you by the American Dental Association.
Also, if a sealant is applied to a tooth where there is existing decay, then this can lead to further decay and potential nerve damage. Who wants to have a root canal? Ugh!
As for my son, I think I’ll hold off getting all those sealants put in. He’s been cavity-free for many years. We will stick with good brushing and flossing for now.