A couple of weeks ago, I told you if you had any questions for health experts to ask away — and I’d see what I could do. Well, the topic for today’s post is thanks to my friend Kristin, who asked me to find out about BPA (bisphenol A) in dental fillings and sealants. Kristin is the “greenest” of all my friends; she even has solar panels on her house and gushes about how much it has saved her family on utilities. I’ve got to admit I wish I had her electric bill!
Back to BPA: Kristin and I tossed our kids’ plastic cups and dinnerware years ago after some preliminary research suggested that the chemical could leach out of plastics when heated and cause health problems, especially for babies and young children. I’ve been buying BPA-free water bottles and other plastics ever since, but it never occurred to me that there would be BPA in those white composite fillings or dental sealants (used to protect kids’ teeth from cavities) until Kristin, fresh from her kid’s teeth-cleaning, asked about it.
I called Julie Anne Barna, a dentist and a spokeswoman for the Academy of General Dentistry, to find out what’s going on. She said that though sealants and fillings don’t contain BPA per se, they do have compounds that can turn into BPA when they’re first put in the mouth. However, she assured me that a quick wipe and rinse of the dental work — a routine practice — removes the potential hazards. In fact, a study published last year in Pediatrics by researchers at Children’s Hospital Boston found that scrubbing and rinsing sealants eliminates 88 to 95 percent of the BPA-causing compounds.
I wish it were 100 percent, of course, but 90-something is good enough for me. The real risk of having a cavity (and other dental problems that might lead to down the road) outweighs the theoretical risk from BPA. Now, please excuse me, I’m off to tell Kristin.