Have I mentioned that I am moving in a couple weeks? Lucky for me, you Green Phone Booth readers (and, as you will see, the members of the Green Moms Carnival provide the perfect sounding board for my initial research. My kid's appointment is in early October -- and I bet my dentist will need a couple weeks to order the sealant. So we've got all summer to talk teeth!
First off, I'm kinda shocked that the ADA hasn't fast tracked discussion of dental enviro health issues since I wrote them a letter last summer (cough). As I noted in my letter in August '08:
Regarding the BPA in sealants, some research seems to indicate that it may be soluble in saliva at high levels during or immediately after application. (In the March 2006 Journal of the American Dental Association, researchers tested 14 volunteers immediately after sealant application and found that patients who received Delton Light Cure (LC) Opaque brand absorbed about 110 micrograms of BPA, 20 times that absorbed by recipients of another brand, Helioseal F (5.5 micrograms). Delton Light Cure (LC) leached amounts similar to those that caused developmental toxicity in rodent studies and, at 42.8 parts per billion (ppb), are higher than the highest amount found in canned food, 38 ppb.... ") Is there an alternative to BPA-based sealants that is effective and safe? I tend to try to avoid potentially toxic chemicals (like endocrine disruptors) even if the jury's still out because I have young children with developing bodies. If I am getting rid of a baby bottle that may or may not leach minute amounts of BPA, I certainly want to avoid a massive ingestion of BPA during the application of a tooth sealant.
ADA inactivity aside, guess which brand of dental sealant my dentist uses? Of course! Delton Light Cure! And yes, I've read the ADA statement, read it last year, in fact, and I still don't want to test out their theory that, "When compared with all other sources of BPA, these dental materials pose significantly lower exposure concerns." I'm betting the ADA thinks I still eat canned food. As if. I've also read the industry pro-BPA spiel. I am not sure what the risk level really is for dental sealants, to be sure, but I am aware that companies are making sealants without this potentially problematic side effect. So why risk it atall? Katy from Non-Toxic Kids agrees, and urges parents to ask dentists for BPA free sealants.
So what are specific brands that are BPA free? According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, "No dental sealants are made with BPA, but the older versions of one brand are made with a compound that breaks down into BPA when it comes into contact with saliva, causing high but temporary elevations in blood levels of BPA. The brand is Delton from Dentsply International of York, Pennsylvania. According to a company representative, newer versions of Delton that have either the plus sign (+) or the word “plus” in their name do not contain the compound that breaks down into BPA."
That completely jibes with what they told me! I called Delton and their super helpful and friendly customer service rep said, after commenting that the ADA has a statement about BPA and that the levels in their products were low, that they offer products that do not contain BPA. She said if I want to avoid BPA not to use the Light Cure (Light Curing Pit and Fissure Sealant Direct Delivery System, for you geeky MSDS readers) or the Self Cure products. Ask for Delton FS Plus or the Seal and Glow products. Excellent!
Tara Parker Pope's blog Well notes that although dentists back sealants despite bpa exposure risk there are specific products that meet a BPA-free criteria:
"A review of 16 studies by the Cochrane Collaboration, a nonprofit group that evaluates medical research, ...found that three products did not release detectable amounts of BPA: Helioseal from Ivoclar Vivadent; Seal-Rite from the Pulpdent Corporation; and Conseal from SDI (North America). All carried the 2007 American Dental Association seal."
Great! BPA free sealants. Which are, of course, still composite plastic sealants. And I still don't have that pesky chemistry degree and Lord knows what else is worrisome in those sealants, right? I'm not sure what I will do, since my kid has had a number of cavities (we all blame it on the fruit leather around here). I'm thinking that mercury fillings are to be avoided, and, although it seems pretty benign health-wise, she might not forgive me if I gild her teeth.
Beth from Fake Plastic Fish suggested I contact the Eco Dentistry Association (of which her dentist is a member). So I asked them (and will update if they respond): "I'm seeking info on BPA in dental sealants. Or rather, the reverse. I'd like to minimize my child's exposure to BPA in dental sealants, and even if they are safe for my child I want to minimize the amount of BPA I send down the pipeline in wastewater. Do you have recommendations for BPA free sealants or other specific products you'd recommend in lieu of sealants containing BPA? Thanks very much."
Green Bean gave some sage counsel: "I'll jump in here just because my dad is a dentist and I went through this with my oldest who had 8 cavities at once!! I'm pretty aware about toxins. I grilled my dad and everyone on sealants, mercury v. plastic (composite) fillings. We ended up going with composite because I was so paranoid about the mercury but my dad tells an interesting story about a super brainy scientist who once asked him for the materials list on the plastic fillings. After taking a look at that, the scientist decided mercury exposure was a better bet." Sigh.
Anna from Green-Talk weighs in: "My dentist is also into kinesthesiology so he muscle tested for adverse reactions to the plastic. (Chiropractors use this method to find out what you are sensitive to.) There are many different plastic composites used today. Some my kids have tested negatively to. But the BPA questions is really a good one to ask. I had all of my mercury fillings removed with a proper protocol to reduce mercury exposure from the removal of the mercury." She also rec'd I check out the Holistic Dental Association.
Jennifer Taggart aka The Smart Mama proffered the following advice (which she found while doing research on this topic):
Dental providers can avoid the potential for BPA toxicity from dental sealants by treating the surface layer of the sealant immediately after placement to reduce the possibility of unpolymerized BPA remaining on the tooth by:
- Using a mild abrasive, such as pumice, either on a cotton applicator or with a prophy cup.
- Having older children and adolescents gargle with tepid water for 30 seconds.
- Washing the surface of the sealant for 30 seconds with an air-water syringe while suctioning fluids and debris from a child's mouth.