Dental sealants and tooth repair resins were found to contain substances that turn into the chemical BPA when combined with saliva. A recent study concluded dental sealants and related products can be safely used by dentists on children if residue after treatment is rinsed or wiped away.
What Are Dental Sealants?
Dental sealants are a plastic material applied to one or more teeth by dentist. The purpose of using dental sealants is to prevent dental caries and other types of tooth decay. Often teeth in the back of the mouth are protected with dental sealants. Pits and fissures on the biting surfaces of back teeth are difficult to clean. Tooth sealants protect these pitted teeth even when brushing cannot.
The History of Dental Sealants
According to Wikipedia, dental sealants were developed in the 1960s and 1970s. By the early 1970s, the first generation of dental sealants was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. Sealants are painted over the chewing surfaces of teeth. If food gets trapped, sealants protect teeth from the carbohydrate like sugar that changes to acid.
Dental Sealant Application
Dental sealants are typically applied in a dental office. The tooth or teeth are cleaned, dried and then a thin layer of liquid plastic is applied to the pits and fissures. After application, a blue spectrum natural light is shined on the material to cure the plastic. Some sealant self-cure through a chemical process. Dental sealants last for five years or more.
Recent research indicates dentists and dental assistants should spend an additional 30 seconds rinsing and wiping teeth after the application of sealants and tooth resin.
BPA in Dental Sealants
Bisphenol A, or BPA, is banned by many plastic bottle manufacturers. Many health problems were liked to the chemical. A study indicated the benefits of dental sealants outweigh potential risks. The report is published in the most recent issue of Pediatrics journal.
MSNBC reported Dr. Burton Edelstein, co-author of the study and chairman of social and behavioral sciences at Columbia University College of Dental Medicine, stated, “People shouldn’t be scared by this. The amount of exposure is extremely low. And the layer than contains BPA can be wiped off with cotton or rinsed off with a stream of water than can be suctioned away by the dental assistant.”
Dental Sealants and the FDA
In January, FDA official requested more research on BPA, explained the agency had “some concern about the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior and prostate glands of fetuses, infants and children.” Dentists and toxicologists reviewed scientific literature and concluded protecting children’s teeth against decay was greater than the risk of brief exposure to BPA.
How Many Children Use Dental Sealants?
Dental sealants became increasingly popular since their introduction in the 1970s. Between 20 and 40 percent of children were treated with dental sealants between 1999 and 2004. Dental sealants do not contain BPA but the chemical forms when the sealants come in contact with saliva.
Dental Sealants and Pregnant Women
Pregnant woman are advised to wait when possible on dental procedures involving dental sealants and other tooth resins associated with BPA.
The Bottom Line About Dental Sealants
MedicineNet reports pediatric endocrinologist, Abby F. Fleisch, MD, said to WebMD, “We believe the high preventive benefits of sealants far outweigh the risk. So until the dental industry creates alternative materials, we recommend their continued use. But we do recommend precautionary application techniques.”