BPA Used in Children's Dental SealantsOct 21, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP We have long been reporting on the many health issues associated with Bisphenol-A (BPA), a ubiquitous estrogenic that is used in a wide variety of consumer products including food and soft-drink can linings; polycarbonate baby bottles; and an array of products, such as CD cases and eyeglasses, in which polycarbonate is used. BPA is also used in dental sealants administered to children as part of cavity prevention protocol. Dental sealants have the consistency of syrup and seep into the crevices of molars. A light hardens the sealants, which are then buffed smooth. The coatings prevent the growth of bacteria that promote decay in the grooves of molars.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been harshly and widely criticized for continuing to deem BPA safe and for issuing a recent draft report that BPA was safe for food storage. One of the problems with the FDA’s findings is that it seems to be relying on two industry-funded studies and ignoring many dozens of independent research findings. Recently, the FDA has been under growing scrutiny from health officials in the United States and Canada.
The latest research, the first large BPA study in humans, published last month by the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), found a "significant relationship" between exposure to the ubiquitous estrogenic chemical and heart disease, diabetes, and liver problems. Long-standing research points to hormonal disturbances and a variety of cancers and neurological and behavioral problems in adults and children. Also, the National Toxicology Program, part of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has raised concerns about BPA. Of particular concern is childhood exposure BPA that leaches from polycarbonate baby bottles and the linings of infant formula cans. The 2003-4 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found detectable levels of BPA in 93 percent of urine samples collected from more than 2,500 adults and children over the age of six. BPA may accelerate puberty and raise a potential risk of cancer and, this
month, the journal Environmental Health Perspectives reported that BPA might interfere with chemotherapy treatment.
Despite these concerns and overwhelming evidence pointing to its dangers, the American Dental Association remains strongly in favor of sealants. “This is such an enormously valuable tool to prevent tooth decay,” said Dr. Leslie Seldin, a New York City dentist and consumer adviser for the American Dental Association. “The BPA issue, I think, is so minuscule in impact that it doesn’t really warrant the attention it’s been getting.” But, in actuality, the amount of BPA exposure can vary depending on the sealant. In a 2006 article in The Journal of the American Dental Association, researchers from the United States Public Health Service and the CDC studied the effects of two dental sealants on 14 men, based on saliva and urine samples and found vast differences based on the sealant used. In patients treated with an Ivoclar Vivadent product called Helioseal F showed no change in urinary or salivary levels of BPA, while patients treated with Delton Light Cure sealant, from Dentsply Ash, were exposed to about 20 times higher doses of BPA.