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Finding the Tooth: BPA in Dental Fillings May Cause Behavioral Problems

dental fillingsSometimes, no matter how well you take care of  your teeth, you simply can’t avoid developing a cavity. And despite the advances in dental care, with today’s fast-food, sugary-snack, eat-on-the-fly lifestyles we all live, it’s no surprise that kids are still very much susceptible to needing a filling or two.

Unfortunately for them, that dental solution might also be affecting kids’ emotional and mental well-being.

BPA Does It Again

According to this new study, children who have received dental fillings made from the already controversial bisphenol-A could undergo subtle but life-altering changes in their behavior. The study’s results, posted in the July 16 issue of Pediatrics, suggest an increased risk of emotional problems like anxiety and depression in kids with BPA fillings.

BPA has long been thought of as the bad guy in many health and wellness scenarios across the country. It’s been tied to developmental disorders before, mostly within the canned goods that it resides in. But now, researchers have looked at over 500 children who had fillings of at least two cavities, and the little three-letter acronym seems to be at it again.

The fillings researched in the study were made of either a silver blend called amalgam, which dentists have already shied away from due to its mercury levels, or plastic composites, based on bisGMA… a material made from BPA. The children with the highest report of bisGMA-based fillings had more emotional problems five years later, while other types of fillings showed no such change.

And this is especially bad news because composite fillings have become the mainstay for treating children’s cavities since the mid-90’s, when everyone became worried about the mercury levels in the amalgam option.

Should You Be Concerned?

The goal of the study was to examine which dental composite would lead to more problems down the line in our children, and the conclusion was “Greater exposure to bisGMA-based dental composite restorations was associated with impaired function in children.” But despite the obvious connection, it’s important to realize this isn’t fully conclusive quite yet. Researchers weren’t able to measure exactly how much BPA kids were exposed to or whether it was even absorbed in their bodies. The findings, unfortunately, are still alarming.

Any consistent behavior differences in a study of this size is enough to cause worry; and dental professionals hope that concern about fillings turns into a greater concern about your teeth.

Dr. Mary Hayes, a Chicago-based pediatric dentist and spokesperson for the American Dental Association told The Daily Beast that she believes we can use this research as an educational opportunity. It’s no secret that the best filling for your teeth is exactly that… your very own teeth.  So it would be extremely wise to promote habits that will keep your children out of the dental surgery chair. And if you can’t, you at least need to look at all of the options out there for children’s cavities.

Because sometimes, no matter what you do, the tooth hurts.

Cited Sources

Maserejian, Nancy. "Dental Composite Restorations and Psychosocial Function in Children." Dental Composite Restorations and Psychosocial Function in Children. N.p., 16 July 2012. Web. 23 July 2012. <http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2012/07/11/peds.2011-3374.abstract>.

Williams, Florence. "Can Children's Dental Fillings Spur Depression?" The Daily Beast. Newsweek/Daily Beast, 16 July 2012. Web. 23 July 2012. <http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/07/16/can-children-s-dental-fillings-spur-depression.html>.


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