BPA? What is it? BPA is short for Bisphenol A. BPA is an organic compound that is used throughout the manufacture of many consumer plastic products, and has been found in some dental composites and sealants.
BPA has been shown to have hormone-like (estrogen) properties that raise concern about its suitability in consumer products and food containers. Some laboratory testing has suggested that BPA may effect reproduction and development in animals by mimicking the effects of the female hormone estrogen. This testing is raising concerns about its safety. Recent scientific research has found links between BPA and serious health problems, from heart disease, diabetes and liver abnormalities in adults to developmental problems in the brains and hormonal systems of children.
BPA and Dentistry
There are three ways BPA can become a part of dental materials:
1. As a direct ingredient in dental composites or dental sealants.
2. As a by-product of degrading dental composites or dental sealants in saliva. Composite resins are formulated from a mixture of monomers that are commonly based on bisphenol A glycidyl methacrylate (bis-GMA). Some composite resins may contain other monomers, in addition to bis-GMA, that are added to modify the properties of the resin. An example is bisphenol A dimethacrylate (bis-DMA). Bis-GMA and Bis-DMA-containing materials can release BPA because both bis-DMA and Bis-GMA are subject to degradation by salivary enzymes. Bis-DMA releases more BPA than Bis-GMA.
3. As a trace material during manufacture of dental materials. BPA may be used in the production of other ingredients found in some dental composites and sealants. Bis-DMA and bis-GMA are both produced using BPA as a starting ingredient, so residual trace amounts of BPA may be present in the final product.
There are many products utilized for “white” fillings. You can ask if your dentist is BPA free. The products utilized should not contain BPA, and even better if there is also no Bis DMA.
What Can Be Done To Limit Dental Exposure To BPA?
The big concern first was the use of traditional dental materials like dental amalgam. Amalgam contains mercury and there has been vigorous debate regarding its health effects. While all dental amalgam fillings contain mercury, not all dental composites and dental sealants contain Bisphenol-A (BPA). It is important to choose a dentist who carefully selects dental composites and dental sealants that are BPA free.
What if you already have dental composites or dental sealants? Should you be concerned?
It is important to remember the amount of BPA released in dental composites and dental sealants is very small. Although, the effect of BPA accumulation may be small it is important to note that it is a cumulative effect. Over the course of a lifetime the BPA will build up like most environmental toxins. Still, if the dental work in question is not causing any immediate health problems that you experience, removing the dental composite can do more harm than good. The trauma each tooth would undergo through the removal process may do more substantial harm to the teeth.
Common Items Containing BPA
-Medical and Dental Devices
-Dental composite filling
-Cd’s and DVD’s
-Lining of Water Pipes
-Lining of Soda cans
How To Reduce Overall Exposure To BPA?
Choosing products that are BPA free is important. Make good choices in everyday products as well as dental materials. Below are some tips to reduce overall BPA exposure for you and your loved ones.
-Choose Cardboard Or Glass Containers Over Cans. Most cans used in food preparation today are lined with BPA. The food in these cans are in contact with this lining allowing the food to leach BPA from the lining. Highly acidic foods (like tomato sauce) tend to leach more BPA than lower acidic foods. Choosing cardboard or glass will be safer in the long run.
-Avoid Microwaving Plastic Food Containers. The packaging in many microwaveable foods can break down under the high temperatures of the microwave. This will release BPA into your food from the lining of the container. It is not required to report whether a container contains BPA but plastic containers that do are usually marked with a #7 recycling code on the bottom of the package.
-Choose BPA Free Baby Bottles. The general rule for plastics is hard and clear contains BPA while soft or cloudy does not. Luckily, most major manufacturers now tout BPA free bottles for our children.
-Use Powdered Infant Formula. Recent research has shown that liquid formulas contain more BPA than the powdered version.
Bisphenol-A (BPA) Conclusion
Research continues to mount regarding the health hazards of Bisphenol-A (BPA) so it would be wise to protect your family and be educated. While we can probably never live a BPA free life we can limit exposure by making smart choices in dental care as well as our lifestyle. Manufacturers are making their own choices, and moving towards many BPA free products. Hopefully, future research will continue with the evolution of even better products to keep us all healthier.