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BPA Found in Dental Sealants

What’s worse than finding out that your bottled water and canned goods have all been tainted with the toxic chemical BPA?  How about finding out that you paid good money to have that same toxic chemical professionally installed in your child’s mouth?

According to a new study, if you’ve had dental sealants applied to your child’s teeth, that is exactly what you’ve done.

The study, published in Pediatrics, finds that the materials used in dental sealants applied to children’s teeth to prevent decay can break down and release BPA, or bisphenol A, right inside your child’s mouth.  And what causes this breakdown is something that clearly nobody every considered might be present in the human mouth:  Saliva.

According to study co-author Abby Fleisch, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital Boston, the levels of dental sealant BPA in saliva can spike up to 88 times higher than normal right after a dental sealant has been applied.  After a few hours, the levels drop off.

Of course, the experts can’t say just how much of that BPA is absorbed into the body, but Fleisch says that it’s probably less than what you get from plastic bottles and linings in metal cans.

And Dr. Burton Edelstein, chairman of social and behavioral sciences at the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine and a co-author of the study, says the benefits of dental sealants outweigh any risks associated with BPA exposure.  The amount of exposure is extremely low, he says, and can be minimized further with a little water and suction from the dental assistant.

While there may still be some debate as to the consequences of BPA exposure in humans, the toxic chemical has been banned in several states including California and Maryland.

By this point, I have a healthy skepticism for expert opinions on matters such as this. Some people have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo and I don’t always trust that I am being given all the information I need to make an informed decision.  And frankly, words such as “don’t know” and “probably” don’t engender much confidence in what they are saying.

But it’s too late for me – my kid got sealed years ago.  What about you?  Do you question the wisdom of avoiding tooth decay by exposing your child to a toxic chemical?

Image: Sam Pullara/Flickr

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