Dental materials are made with either bis-GMA or bis-DMA. These materials are used to form dental sealants that are used for fillings. The concern that has been voiced is that these products can contain trace amounts of BPA, short for bisphenol A.
To simplify - according to USA Today, “BPA or bisphenol A, is a ‘toxic chemical’ that has been linked to a variety of health problems in human and animal studies.” In addition, “Studies have linked BPA to altered hormone levels in men and an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease in adults.”
Some of the dental materials that contain bis-DMA (not bis-GMA) will actually break down into BPA (that toxic chemical referenced above) once it comes in contact with the saliva.
The American Dental Association’s Response
There are articles that are calling into question the safety of BPA levels in dental sealants, however, according to the American Dental Association, “BPA can be detected for up to three hours after sealants are placed, then levels quickly drop off… the benefits of dental sealants outweigh the potential risk of a brief BPA exposure. Dental materials are far less likely to cause BPA exposure than other consumer goods such as plastic bottles and linings of metal cans.”
The ADA doesn’t believe that there is a health risk that is “related to the use of resin-based sealants and composites.” Below are some notes from the article that may help answer any additional questions you have. For the full article click the link at the bottom to our primary resource from the American Dental Association:
- Dental sealants and composites have been used for many years. Sealants prevent tooth decay and composites are tooth colored dental fillings.
- Resin-based sealants and composites are made from plastic. Some types of plastic have been in the news lately because of a chemical called BPA, a chemical that acts like estrogen. Some studies with laboratory animals suggest a disruption in normal hormone activity. This has led to speculation about the effect of BPA on humans.
- An article that was just published in a medical journal assessed various existing studies on dental materials and BPA. A low level of BPA may be present in the saliva a few hours after placement of resin-based sealants, but based on current evidence, the American Dental Association believes that this low level and brief exposure time poses no known health risk.
- Trace amounts of BPA may be present as a byproduct of the manufacturing process or with certain sealants (those with bis DMA) after coming in contact with enzymes in saliva.
- The one-time exposure to BPA from sealants is about 200 times lower than the daily level EPA considers safe. Dental materials are far less likely to cause BPA exposure than other consumer goods such as plastic bottles and linings of metal cans.
- The researchers say sealants and composites should continue to be used because of their proven benefits which outweigh potential risks of BPA. The researchers also say that BPA exposure can be reduced if a newly-placed sealant or composite filling is rinsed or wiped.