This month I would like to call your attention to some interesting dental news.
One story that got a lot of coverage was one claiming that compositefillings increase emotional problems in children, and suggesting that parents should be concerned about the Bisphenol-A (BPA). I found this “study,” published in Pediatrics, to be of concern not because of what they said, but because of who said it, and because there was nothing scientific about the “study.”
The researchers are the same ones who did the study covered in my newsletter of May 2006, “Mercury Fillings in Children – A Look at Two Recent Studies.“ That study was very flawed, and this one is no better. The first study held that mercury is safe in the mouth, and this one seems to say, “be careful, mercury fillings may be better than composites.”
Let me point out a few problems with this study. They took the children from the first study, and five years later, sent out a self-assessment questionnaire to be filled out by the parents or the kids themselves. Based on this response they determined that a small number of children who had the most exposure to bisGMA-based composites, had more psychosocial problems. From this the headlines leaped to “BPA in the tooth filling may boost kids behavioral problems.”
No BPA levels were taken prior to placement of the composite fillings and none were taken at any time during the five years. So we have no idea what was going on with these children with reference to BPA. Could it be that the children who had the most fillings were also the ones with the poorest diets, eating more canned foods or food cooked in plastic in a microwave oven? Such diets would produce higher levels of BPA. However, we have no idea if BPA is even the problem.
BPA is a building block in making bisGMA composites and once the composite is light cured (which is done in small layers) there is no free BPA. So BPA really is not a problem.
I may be cynical, but I believe this “study” was published to cast doubt on the safety of the relatively new composites, thus making mercury fillings appear to be safer. After all, mercury fillings have been around for over 150 years! The way I look at it, anything placed in the mouth is a foreign substance and is therefore toxic. However comparing the toxicity of composites to that of mercury is like comparing David to Goliath.
As long as we are on the topic of BPA, I’d like to briefly discuss sealants.
Sealants are a flowable material that are used to seal deep grooves in the teeth. Many sealants do contain BPA. Ask your dentist to use a non-BPA sealant because BPA may be of some concern. I prefer to place a tiny composite to fill in the deep groves. These composites last longer and do not “leak”. I find that sealants are often lost or begin to leak with time resulting in decay under the sealant.
On another front, the New York University Dental School announced that they were going to become “amalgam free”.
Any student wishing to place a mercury filling will have to get special permission and a faculty member will have to justify its use.
Of course, Associate Dean Wolff, made it clear that this change was made for environmental safety. (I guess that amalgams are perfectly safe for people – just not for fish!) NYU will adhere to the ADA guideline that clinically serviceable amalgams should not be removed.
Dr. Wolff said, “Recently the United Nations Environmental Program, supported in part by the United States Department of State has proposed a legally binding global treaty on mercury pollution and is recommending phasing out the use of mercury-containing products including amalgam.” It seems NYU sees the writing on the wall and wants to be in the forefront of the changes coming.
By the way, we can thank Attorney Charlie Brown and Consumers for Dental Choice for what is taking place regarding the world’s position on mercury.
Thank you NYU. This is a big crack in the dam holding back those in favor of placing mercury in the mouth.