BPA in Dental Sealants Raises Concerns

<"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/toxic_substances">Bisphenol A—BPA—the controversial polycarbonate plastic is at the root of even more controversy. This time, with dental fillings and sealants being used in children.

USNews reported that, based on new research, dental fillings and sealants can expose children to BPA; however, while exposure is believed to be “short-lived,” long-term risks are unknown. The dental products involved, said USNews, do not contain pure BPA; however, saliva can cause them to leach, releasing BPA into the mouth, degrading it into pure BPA, said the team.

“The research that exists shows that upon contact with enzymes in the saliva some, but not all, BPA derivatives break down to pure BPA, and that BPA is said to be in saliva for a short time period of up to three hours,” said study author Dr. Abby F. Fleisch, quoted USNews. Dr. Fleisch is a pediatrician in the department of medicine at Children’s Hospital Boston, part of Harvard Medical School, explained USNews. Dr. Fleisch called for more research into the impact of the exposure and if additional leaching occurs. The research appears in next month’s Pediatrics.

Hundreds of studies have linked BPA to cardiovascular disease, intestinal problems, brain cell connection interference, increased risks of reproductive and immune system diseases and disorders, problems with liver function testing, interruptions in chemotherapy, premature puberty, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and erectile dysfunction and male sexual problems. BPA is found in the bodies of 93 percent of Americans and 90 percent of American newborns.

Another report containing the must current collection of published scientific literature regarding BPA’s health impacts found that of 81 studies, 75 concluded that in humans exposed to the chemical there exist negative health reactions connected to BPA exposure, wrote Toxics Action. Also, men exposed to high levels of the polycarbonate plastic test with what WebMD described as a small, but significant, increase in the male sex hormone testosterone.

BPA is known to imitate the hormone estrogen. Acting as an anti-androgen—substances which block hormone activity—BPA affects sexual development and processes, especially in developing fetuses, infants, and children. Professor David Melzer, a scientist at Exeter University described BPA as “gender bending,” calling for BPA to undergo the same safety trials as emerging medications.

Sadly, despite ongoing reports about the potential health hazards of the estrogenic, polycarbonate plastic that can be found in everything from thermal paper receipts to water bottles, the California Senate recently defeated a bill to ban the ubiquitous chemical from plastic baby bottles, sippy cups, and baby formula containers, wrote the Associated Press (AP). The failed measure would have placed limits on BPA to trace amounts in food and beverage containers meant for use by children age three and younger, added the AP.

The research team explained that they looked at what they described as “sparse” and “mixed” on the estrogenic chemical, going back about 15 years, said USNews. Some of the dental products tested had different variations and concentrations of the chemical, which prompted the team to urge manufacturers to label sealant products and that dentists and patients take steps to minimize exposure, wrote USNews.

“There are simple precautionary application techniques that can be used to dramatically reduce BPA exposure for people getting these sealants or white fillings,” Fleisch said, according to USNews. Such steps include gargling for about 30 seconds after dental sealant has been applied and dentists can clean the sealant’s surface after it has set.

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