BPA in Dental Sealants? Ask Your Dentist!



Happy New Year, Non-Toxic Kids readers! Wishing you a happy, healthy and productive 2009.

In a matter of days, I’ve had two questions on this blog about BPA used in dental sealants. And fortunately (or unfortunately, depending how you look at it), I’ve found out first hand all about this.

We’ve all heard a great deal this year about BPA in plastics, canned food and baby bottles. But you may not have heard that some dental sealants used to fill cavities contain BPA.

BPA (bisphenol A) has been linked to numerous health problems, including liver and heart disease, hyperactivity, and damage to the reproductive systems of children. And I have a blog record of no less than 31 posts about it, as I referenced in my post a few days ago about BPA being one of the hot topics of the year.

When I was dutifully bringing my 3 year old daughter to the dentist for a cleaning, I was told she had a cavity. First of all, I was horrified. We’d been religiously brushing her teeth as soon as she’d got ’em. And flossing, for a year or so. Of course, I felt like a mom who lives her kid a bottle of Doctor Pepper before bed. Anyway–you can see where this is going, right?

Before I talk about BPA, let me mention fluoride. I’ve been as freaked out about it as many other parents, but I am particularly concerned about healthy teeth. I had braces, oral surgery and numerous discomforts for my pearly whites. You might say I am a bit neurotic. We live in a rural area with no fluoridated water, so our pediatrician recommended fluoride drops. I did some research, and decided it was best to give these drops to our girls, but not to worry if we missed a night or two. Well, I guess I should have worried. Now our oldest as a cavity and more “troubling spots” as the hygienist described. I almost fell off the chair. Now we use a prescription toothpaste (she can spit, so she doesn’t ingest too much of the fluoride), and we bagged the drops, so they don’t get too much. With my youngest, we brush her teeth with Tom’s of Maine with fluoride.

I’m just too scarred by seeing my oldest in a chair with a huge needle in her gums to worry as much about fluoride. Okay, sorry, now back to BPA–

So I asked if the sealants they use contain BPA. Thankfully, they had just switched to using a sealant without BPA, because of patient requests. My daughter’s sealants won’t have it, but my cavities sure do. I also have an ancient silver one that probably contains mercury.

The take home message (tired parents are saying, finally!): Ask your hygienist. If they don’t know, ask the dentist. And if they say the sealants do contain BPA, but are “safe”, explain that you know differently and ask that they switch to sealants that are BPA free. They exist and are available.
Readers, have you asked your dentist about BPA in sealants? Have you experienced a cavity in your young child? I’d love to hear your comments.

By the way, I read every comment that you post here. Sometimes I am not very good about writing back in a timely manner, but I do read and appreciate every comment on this blog. One of my goals for Non-Toxic Kids this year is to have more discussion and participation from readers. I know you are out there, after over 30 comments on the giveaway!

PS- I’ll pick the winner in the next day or so!

20 Responses to BPA in Dental Sealants? Ask Your Dentist!

  1. nyscof January 2, 2009 at 8:07 am #

    From the Journal of the American Dental Association (november 2008)"The use of supplements during the first six yeas of life, and especially during the first three years, is associated with a significant increse in fluorosis.""We found that the evidence supporting the effectiveness of supplements in caries prevention in primary teeth is week."

  2. islandveggie@hotmail January 2, 2009 at 1:40 pm #

    I claim not to be any sort of expert but here are my thoughts. i have always brushed my sons teeth with non floridated toothpate, we don't have floridated water and I have never given any drops for anything. Ever. I only brush once per day before bed sometimes twice if we eat something sticky early in the day.He is almost 5 now and we went to the dentist for the first time in the summer. She was very impressed with his teeth and said that they were some of the best she has seen in a while. I think that the durability of one's teeth is partially controlled by genetic factors and the rest by diet. We follow a fuhrman style diet, although not as strict as I would like, and try to have sticky thinks like dried fruit when we are going to brush teeth soon.So I think that kids need to eat their vegetables, expecially green ones, to have strong teeth!

  3. Anonymous January 2, 2009 at 4:26 pm #

    Thanks for the update. My 5 year old needs to have is newest molar drilled and filled. Dentist indicates it's a defective tooth and no neglegence of our care. He does use BPA in the filling and offers no alternative. Of course he said it is safe. I'm torn on what to do and have held off taking care of it. My research on the net is very mixed. It's very hard to find effective fillings w/out the mercury or BPA, espeically for a child. Any suggestions or success from anyone would be great! Happy New Year.

  4. Katy January 2, 2009 at 5:17 pm #

    Thanks for your comment! I do appreciate hearing your experience. I know that much of my daughter's problems with her teeth are genetic. See seems to have a thin enamel, which runs in the family. I'm not sure what a fuhrman diet is. My girls are primarily vegetarian, and my oldest eats lots of fruits and veggies. It sounds like your family has good teeth genes and a healthy diet!Thanks again,Katy

  5. Tiffany Teske January 3, 2009 at 10:00 pm #

    Hi again, Katy, Tiffany from the Melissa and Doug debate… I have a lot to say about this topic. I am the daughter of a dentist and a dental hygienist. Stop right there if you think you know which side of the debate I am on. My mother, the dental hygienist was absolutely crazy about our teeth. She brushed them FOR US until I was at least 10 years old. I had the normal twice a year cleanings but had to take these crazy red pill things at home, I think they showed the plaque on my teeth, and I had to swish fluoride and brush my teeth AT SCHOOL. In the end, I have fluorosis, which is yellowish teeth with white spots on them, kind of like a cow. And because I have thin enamel, all the brushing has made it even worse. And I have many cavities, all of which I am sure contain BPA (I have luckily had all the mercury ones replaced). I completely believe that teeth have to do with genetics. I came from a dental family and I have horrible teeth, so it is not all fluoride, brushing, and flossing. My husband on the other hand brushed once a day, hardly flosses, and when my mom gives him a cleaning she goes on and on about how strong his teeth are, and he had very few cavities. Oh, did I mention he only gets cleanings, maybe once a year, when we visit my mom. He doesn't have a regular dentist, like I have to. Our daughter seems to have inherited his teeth. She is 2 1/2 and should probably go to my dentist soon for a look see. She brushed with a Kid's Natural watermelon toothpaste that doesn't have fluoride and we don't have it in our area in the water. I also breastfed her until she was 2 years and 3 month old. And dentists love to say you should not let a child go to sleep who has been nursing… sheesh. One more hit for nursing. I have believe that with all the benefits of nursing, someone should not stop because their dentist tells them to! Now, my next story is about my friend, who has two boys. The oldest boy has great teeth, very strong, and they did the minimum. Her youngest is about 3 1/2 and he has cavities, AND they have tried three times but he won't get in the dental chair. How does she know he has cavities? She can SEE them. They brush his teeth twice a day, AND started flossing when he was about two. They both nursed the same way, until about 3 years old. She has weaker teeth, her husband had strong ones. I totally think that the teeth you have come from your genetics, which can differ in the same family. Now, for the last thing I will say, because I have run on long enough, you can ask your dentist questions, but you may not get a straight answer. Or they will just tell you everything is safe. I have a TERRIBLE time trying to get straight answers from either of my parents about the safety of fluoride, fillings, toothpaste, bleaching, etc. They just roll their eyes at me and tell me it is all safe. It is really frustrating but they do work for the dental industry, right? Oh, on a side note, my father has a 10 year old child, my sister, who was adopted from China. My dad was always very lax about our dental care, since my mom had it covered, and he says that he and my step mom are JUST getting into a good routine with my little sister, and her teeth are in great shape. Ok, sorry to go on so long… oh, last thing, I have heard of Biological dentistry, which is mercury free dentistry, that of course, traditional dentists call quackery… however, don't OBGYNs say the same about midwives? Just an idea on another avenue to explore… T

  6. saleha January 14, 2009 at 4:48 am #

    My son needs a cavity filled and his dentist didn't know what BPA is and whether or not it is used in their fillings. What am I supposed to do? How do I find a dentist who uses non-BPA fillings? By randomly calling dentists and asking? Any suggestions would be appreciated. I've been putting this off and I need to get it taken care of.

  7. Lisa Aschenbrenner November 19, 2009 at 9:47 am #

    Hi – I am trying to find more info regarding the BPA in dental sealants. I called my dentist from 3 years ago who did my son's sealant and they know that they do not have BPA sealant NOW, but they are not sure from back when Mathew had it done as there is no notes on what was used. Is there a way we can test his teeth or have it removed to do something about it incase if it has BPA? I have been searching on the internet for this, and I am not finding anything. Thank you.

  8. Margaret January 4, 2010 at 4:44 pm #

    Thanks for the insight. Our dentist suggested today that my 7 year old get sealants. I had them, and I believe they work, but I asked him about the chemical risks of them. [I couldn't remember that it was 'BPA' when the subject came up.] He quipped that it was always a cost/benefit analysis – meaning, I had to choose between giving my kid chemicals or her having cavities. Honestly, I was serioulsy put off by his attitute. But, I found a ny times artical that there are sealants that appear to not leach BPA into your system [http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/21/health/21well.html?_r=1] so I will be calling the Dentist tomorrow to ask what brand he uses. And, since he is still not using digital xrays, I think I may be switching dentists if he uses another brand.

  9. Katy Farber January 4, 2010 at 5:21 pm #

    Hi Margaret, I just read your comment. Thanks for the link. Our dentist says their sealants do not contain BPA, which is good, because my youngest's teeth are very week and she already has three cavities (sob!). Can you tell me more about digital xrays?Thanks!Katy

  10. Katy Farber January 4, 2010 at 5:22 pm #

    And Margaret, Because of my youngest's really bad teeth, we'll probably get sealants, too. Everything seems to be a trade off!! Ugh, it is so frustrating.

  11. Greenmom September 25, 2010 at 10:36 am #

    Thanks for this, even though it's a year down the line–our dentist is recommending sealants for my 7-year-old, and he says that the kind he uses does not have BPA in it, which is encouraging…What I can't seem to find information on is what he IS using, and what IT has in it. Anyone?

  12. Maggie October 12, 2010 at 5:11 pm #

    I found this googling "BPA and Sealents". Our toddler is about to have some dental work done, so we've been reading all about stainless steel crowns verse resins/sealents and et cetera. Her paternal grandfather had horrible teeth, her father has weak enamel and lots of dental work, and now her. I have always had strong teeth and her older sister's teeth are perfect. It turns out, she has celiac disease, and her father and grandfather both adopted a gluten free diet and saw big health improvements. So for anyone reading who has unexplained weak enamel, it might be worth looking into gluten.

  13. Nancy T-B February 18, 2011 at 10:32 am #

    Wow – I liked your article but urge you to do some research on fluoride. You sound like a good mom and if you knew what fluoride is and what it can do, you wouldn't want it anywhere near your kids in any amount. It is a neuro-toxin and does not prevent cavities at all. Here is a good link .http://www.fluoridealert.org/50-reasons.htm

  14. Katy Farber February 19, 2011 at 4:07 pm #

    Hi Nancy,Thanks for your comments. I have done the research. I'm not happy on either side of this issue. I have a daughter with terrible teeth– even after lots of brushing, flossing etc. I'll check out your link, thank you. Please visit again!

  15. Mery October 12, 2011 at 8:10 am #

    When I asked my dentist what sealant he uses, he printed out copy of the product information sheet on a product called Filtek Supreme Ultra Flowable Restorative by 3M ESPE. The product uses a material known as BisGMA, which does not break down to form BPA, according to 3M's letter to dentists:http://multimedia.3m.com/mws/mediawebserver?mwsId=66666UuZjcFSLXTtNXTEnxTEEVuQEcuZgVs6EVs6E666666–&fn=bpa_letter.pdfIf your dentist is not giving you enough information, ask for a copy of the product information sheet and check for yourself to make sure there is no BPA or BisDMA listed (BisGMA is ok), or give him/her a copy of the above letter.

  16. Anonymous December 4, 2012 at 8:54 am #

    You are right to be concerned about BPA in sealants. You might want to look into the dangers of fluoride as well. Some that I have read about include health, brain, and IQ effects, especially in children. Many (if not all) dental sealants, even BPA-free ones, contain slow-release fluoride, which is surely ingested.Mike S

  17. Dr HInch December 17, 2012 at 11:36 am #

    I am a dentist. I would like to say that it is important to understand how the decay process works. This may help explain why fluoride appears to work for some an not others, and why those who have never had fluoride so not have tooth decay.Dental decay is primarily bacterial in nature, but the physiology is related to acid. The bacteria forms a glue to stick to the tooth surface. It consumes sucrose (sugar) for energy. It 'piddles' acid onto the tooth surface for a prolonged period of time, and the acid dissolves the enamel, forming a hole we call decay. Break the chain of bacteria, sugar, or acid, and you reduce the risk for tooth decay. Brushing and flossing removes bacteria, fluoride in drinking water is a tool that makes the tooth slippery so that bacteria cannot stick. Eating sugar less frequently or substituting Xylitol as a sugar, starves the bacterial so they do not produce acid. Removing the acid by rinsing with water or milk, not drinking or eating acidic foods or drinks (soda, juice, water with lemon), can break the cycle.Finally, there are minimally invasive ways of fixing early cavities by changes in diet, toothpaste, and not leaving your mouth acidic when you sleep.

  18. Poppy January 9, 2013 at 9:44 am #

    Oh my goodness, thank you Dr Hinch, at last I understand. We gave up flouride for 3 years with disastrous consequences – a filling for my four year old and a tooth removed. I have lost count of my root fillings since this time. "Cure Tooth Decay" by Ramiel Nagel is very good and explains a lot about diet.

  19. right lawyer July 5, 2014 at 10:21 am #

    Have you ever thought about publishing an e-book or guest authoring on other websites?

    I have a blog based on the same topics you discuss and would really like to have you share some stories/information. I know my readers would

    value your work. If you are even remotely interested, feel free to shoot me an email.

  20. Gretchen April 9, 2016 at 1:47 pm #

    Just wondering how we know if the BPA-free sealants are actually safe, and don’t contain equally concerning compounds? Has anyone found out? TIA!

Leave a Reply

Join the Non-toxic Kids Monthly Newsletter

Non-Toxic Kids is your source for green parenting news and activism, reviews of eco-friendly products, books and music for children, and tips for more natural family living. Our mission is to help your children stay safe, healthy and smart.

  • Stay current on environmental issues affecting kids
  • Get must-have parenting from experienced moms
  • Learn how to choose healthier products
  • Join us in taking action to protect our children
  • Grab your FREE copy of The Chemicals in Us (and how to avoid them)