BPA in Dental Fillings and Sealants

A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, July 2012 has raised concern about the release of Bisphenol A (BPA) from composite filling materials and dental sealants that are routinely being used and applied to children’s teeth.

What Are Composite Fillings?

Composite filling materials are the white “plastic” filling materials that can be used as an alternative to the commonly-used silver/mercury amalgam metal fillings. Composite materials were first created in the late 1980s then became much more prevalent and widely used in dentistry in the 1990’s and 2000’s.

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical that is used in the manufacture of thousands of plastics and plastic products and is found in both the bis-GMA and bis-DMA that these composite dental materials are made from. The problem with BPA is that it mimics the action of estrogen within the human body and thus is capable of disrupting the proper balance and function of the hormonal system as well as interfering with the neurological and immune systems.

Science News reported: “[the] study finds that children who have their cavities filled with a white composite resin known as bis-GMA appear to develop small but quantifiable drops in psychosocial function. To put it simply: Treated kids can become more moody, aggressive and generally less well adjusted.”1

Could Your Child’s Dental Fillings Be Causing Behavioral Changes?

Janet Raloff of Science News writes:

The new report, posted online July 16 in Pediatrics, is “very important,” says Philip Landrigan, director of the Children’s Environmental Health Center at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. These data linking bis-GMA and behavioral changes in kids “make a strong case that in the short term, use of BPA-containing dental materials should be minimized,” he says. Over the longer term, he argues, manufacturers should look to discontinue the materials’ use in children as soon as acceptable substitutes are readily available.

In the new study, researchers followed more than 400 youngsters with cavities after each received his or her first-ever fillings. Throughout the next 5 years, the scientists linked a subtle drop in behavioral scores to cavities that had been filled with a composite material made from bis-GMA.

The numerical change in behavioral scores was small, roughly 2 to 6 points on a 100-point scale (where a score of 50 is average). Parents might not notice a change that small or could easily attribute it to other factors. But that doesn’t mean the magnitude was trivial, argues Nancy Maserejian of New England Research Institutes in Watertown, Mass. who led the study.1

To place the degree of exposure and effects of BPA into a broader context, Bisphenol-A is a chemical which is in widespread use throughout the world and is detected in nearly all humans tested in the United States. This chemical is most commonly used in the manufacturing of plastics, particularly hard, clear polycarbonate plastics which can be used for baby bottles, water bottles and other food and beverage containers. BPA leaches from the plastic, especially when the containers are heated or microwaved, cleaned with detergents or exposed to acidic foods and drinks. Of 115 studies examining low-dose exposure of this chemical, 94 found harmful effects, including decreased testosterone levels, enlarged prostates and lower sperm counts in newborn males, as well as early puberty and disrupted hormonal cycles in girls.

Dental Sealants

Dental sealants, a treatment that is increasingly overused in children’s dentistry, is yet another form of exposure to BPA. Dental sealants are made of a resin that is applied to protect the tooth surface and reduce tooth decay. Because it is a resin, the material is softer and not always hardened like composite fillings. Thus, the material is much more unstable and enzymes found in saliva have been shown to release BPA from these dental sealants. Articles by Dr. Gordon Christensen DDS, a leading researcher in this subject, call for dentists to be much more cautious and diligent in the proper use of these sealants. If dental sealants are applied to your child’s teeth, use Vitamin C, Glutathione and N-acetylcysteine to assist in the detoxification of any BPA released from the sealant.

Mercury Fillings

Despite composite fillings having BPA, it is important to remember the high toxicity of the alternative: mercury fillings.

  • Amalgam Fillings Continue to Release Highly Toxic Elemental Mercury Over Many Years: Mercury is one of the most toxic substances on planet earth. Current research from around the world now conclusively demonstrates that the mercury in amalgam fillings leaches out over time into the body and is absorbed primarily as highly toxic elemental mercury vapor.
  • Amalgam Fillings Largest Source of Mercury: Based on a number of studies in Sweden, the World Health Organization’s review of inorganic mercury in 1991 determined that mercury absorption is estimated to be approximately four times higher from amalgam fillings than from fish consumption.
  • Cumulative Poison and Builds Up in Organs: Mercury released from fillings builds up in the brain, pituitary, adrenal glands and other parts of the body.
  • Mercury Builds Up in the Brain and Organs of Fetuses of Mothers With Amalgam Fillings: Mercury from fillings in pregnant women has been shown to cause mercury accumulation in brain, kidneys and liver of human fetuses. Studies have shown that mercury can be passed to infants from breast milk.
  • Amalgam Fillings Linked to Neurological Problems, Gastrointestinal Problems: Numerous studies of mercury and adverse reactions show that commonly associated symptoms are linked to gastrointestinal problems, sleep disturbances, concentration problems, memory disturbances, lack of initiative, restlessness, bleeding gums and other mouth disorders. A review published in 2005 by the Freiburg University Institute for Environmental Medicine found that “mercury from dental amalgam may lead to nephrotoxicity, neuro-behavioral changes, autoimmunity, oxidative stress, autism, skin and mucosa alterations or non-specific symptoms and complaints”, and that “Alzheimer’s disease or multiple sclerosis has also been linked to low-dose mercury exposure.”

The toxic effects of mercury, especially on children, are so well documented that between 2008 and 2009, Sweden, Norway and Denmark banned the use of mercury amalgam fillings completely. Other European countries such as Germany and Austria have passed legislation regulating and restricting the use or application of mercury amalgam fillings in pregnant women and/or nursing mothers.

Most notably, in December 2016, the European Union decided to ban the use of mercury “for dental treatment of milk teeth, children under 15 years and pregnant or breastfeeding women starting July 1, 2018 unless there are specific medical needs. On April 25, 2017 the European Union Council adopted the legislation, but European NGOs are asking the dentists of Europe to be proactive and implement the ban immediately – not wait until 2018.

The Member State governments should instruct dentists to stop amalgam use on Europe’s children immediately rather than waiting until July next year. Dentistry is a major source of environmental mercury pollution, which is causing a child brain drain in Europe and elsewhere,” says Génon K. Jensen, Health and Environmental Alliance (HEAL) (as quoted in a Press Release by the European Environmental Bureau, 2017).

close-up of a child's smile

Composite Fillings and a BPA-Free Alternative

Up until recently, the only options to fill cavities were mercury fillings or BPA-containing composite fillings. Today, there may be a BPA-free alternative. Released in 2016, a product called Admira Fusion/Admira Fusion X-tra is reported to be made of ceramic and not contain Bis-GMA or BPA before or after it has been cured.

However, no product can ever be made to be suitable for all people. Dr. Raymond Silkman, biological dentist and Safe Baby Healthy Child expert advises to consult with a biological dentist for materials testing to find the product that suits you best. If you find that this new product is not suitable for your body, remember that composite materials fillings are much less toxic and easier on the body to handle than mercury fillings.

  • BPA released for short duration: The studies indicate that the BPA is primarily released from the composite fillings for a relatively short duration (1 week) after the fillings have been placed unlike mercury from amalgam fillings which continues to leach into the body for many years.
  • Easier to detoxify BPA than Mercury: The body may have an easier time neutralizing, detoxifying and eliminating chemicals such as BPA than metals such as mercury.
  • Nutrients to assist detoxification of BPA: By taking precautionary measures and supplementing your child with nutrients such as Vitamin C, Glutathione and N-acetylcysteine, you can effectively help their bodies detoxify and eliminate BPA. (When considering any form of detoxification for your child, always consult with a naturopathic physician for correct dosages and application.)

What Is The Perfect Dental Material For My Child’s Filling?

There is no perfect dental material for filling teeth for everyone. Yet, it is clear that composite fillings are definitely preferable to mercury amalgam fillings, especially when used and applied by a holistically-oriented dentist who is familiar and well-versed in the correct application of composite materials.

Dentists from around the world who are concerned about the adverse effects of mercury amalgam fillings have created the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT). The IAOMT is an organization for dental professionals who are interested in the intimate and important relationship between the teeth, mouth and the rest of the body. The IAOMT advocates the use of blood tests to determine the biological compatibility of the many dental materials that are now available.

These tests can help identify what particular dental products are most compatible and safe for each individual child or adult before any material is placed in the mouth. If your child needs cavities filled, orthodontics or a crown, find a dentist who recognizes the dangers of mercury and utilizes these tests to advise you regarding the safest and most biocompatible dental materials. The original blood test for biological compatibility of dental materials was developed by Clifford Research Lab, based in Colorado, U.S.A. and is now known as Clifford Materials Reactivity Testing (CMRT) http://www.ccrlab.com.

Dental care is an extremely important part of your child’s medical care. Making the right choices along the way can help you avoid the health problems associated with placing toxic dental materials directly into your child’s mouth.

1 Raloff, J. (2012, July 16). Putting BPA-based dental fillings in perspective. Retrieved from https://www.sciencenews.org.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally posted in March 2013 and has been reviewed and updated for accuracy and completeness by Dr. Murray Clarke, ND., D.Hom., L.Ac.

About Safe Baby Healthy Child Health Expert: Dr. Murray Clarke, D.Hom., L.Ac.

Dr. Murray Clarke Safe Baby Healthy Child Health Expert

Dr. Murray Clarke is a doctor of naturopathic medicine with licenses and doctorates in homeopathic medicine and Chinese medicine (including acupuncture and herbology) and is a leading homeopathic physician for children in the Los Angeles area.

He is also the founder of ChildLife® Essentials, the first complete line of nutritional supplements exclusively for children ages newborn through teen, and author of Natural Baby-Healthy Child: Alternative Health Care Solutions from Pre-conception Through Childhood.

Natural Baby-Healthy Child utilizes diet, environmental detoxification, nutritional supplementation and holistic modalities including homeopathy, naturopathy, osteopathy, chiropractic and acupuncture to help parents–from pre-conception to pregnancy, to the baby’s first year through childhood–make the right health decisions for themselves and their child, naturally. Natural Baby–Healthy Child is an essential medical road map that will help keep children firmly on the path to robust, long-term good health and the realization of the full potential of body, mind and soul.