Health Risks from Dental Sealants

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It’s funny what gets passed off as “preventive dentistry” for kids. Brushing, flossing, good nutrition and healthy lifestyle habits seem to be considered much too hard to instill in children. So instead, dentists turn to things like fluoride treatments, even though fluoride is a known neurotoxin, and sealants, even though they contain BPA and other toxic materials.

A sealant is basically a protective covering on the teeth. It’s made of a resin material, similar to composite (the stuff used to make “white” fillings), which is placed directly on the molars and allowed to seep into the crevices. A curing light is then used to harden the material (a process called polymerization), creating a protective barrier against decay. While this may sound good in principle, there are problems that make this a less than ideal treatment.

First, a number of sealants contain BPA, a known endocrine disruptor. Recent studies have further detailed the health impact of this substance, reported on at News Inferno:

The latest research, the first large BPA study in humans, published last month by the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), found a “significant relationship” between exposure to the ubiquitous estrogenic chemical and heart disease, diabetes, and liver problems. Long-standing research points to hormonal disturbances and a variety of cancers and neurological and behavioral problems in adults and children. Also, the National Toxicology Program, part of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has raised concerns about BPA. Of particular concern is childhood exposure BPA that leaches from polycarbonate baby bottles and the linings of infant formula cans. The 2003-4 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found detectable levels of BPA in 93 percent of urine samples collected from more than 2,500 adults and children over the age of six. BPA may accelerate puberty and raise a potential risk of cancer and, this month, the journal Environmental Health Perspectives reported that BPA might interfere with chemotherapy treatment.

Additionally, a new review of the FDA’s “BPA is safe” rationale shows that to be flawed at best.

And yet,

Despite these concerns and overwhelming evidence pointing to its dangers, the American Dental Association remains strongly in favor of sealants. “This is such an enormously valuable tool to prevent tooth decay,” said Dr. Leslie Seldin, a New York City dentist and consumer adviser for the American Dental Association. “The BPA issue, I think, is so minuscule in impact that it doesn’t really warrant the attention it’s been getting.” But, in actuality, the amount of BPA exposure can vary depending on the sealant. In a 2006 article in The Journal of the American Dental Association, researchers from the United States Public Health Service and the CDC studied the effects of two dental sealants on 14 men, based on saliva and urine samples and found vast differences based on the sealant used. In patients treated with an Ivoclar Vivadent product called Helioseal F showed no change in urinary or salivary levels of BPA, while patients treated with Delton Light Cure sealant, from Dentsply Ash, were exposed to about 20 times higher doses of BPA.

Even if BPA weren’t an issue, there are other problems with sealants. For starters, direct cured resins such as sealants and composites are never completely polymerized. Consequently, as research by Mark Latta has shown, the material is not fully inert even after placement and can damage any of the delicate periodontal tissues it touches (the gums). In some cases, it may trigger an allergic or immune response.

Further, sealants have been implicated in the development and aggravation of neurocutaneous syndrome (NCS). This disorder is characterized by pus-filled leisons on the skin and painful and irritating sensations on or just under the skin. The sores, of course, make the individual vulnerable to other infection. Dr. Omar Amin in particular has documented many, many cases of NCS over the years and has argued from his research that there is a direct cause-effect relationship between toxic dental materials such as sealants and the development of NCS. This is appears largely due to the presence of toxins such as zinc oxide and ethyltoulene sufonamide in sealants. (You can read more of Dr. Amin’s findings here [PDF].)

We humans have a tendency to think that if a substance doesn’t do immediate harm to us, it must be okay. But more and more, the science is showing us the danger in this view. Before we go placing materials in people’s mouths or bodies, we must diligently look ahead, proceeding with caution and an informed perspective. This is an inherently conservative way of practicing dentistry…and also, we would argue, the sanest.


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About The Verigin Dental Health Team

A humanistic, holistic dental practice in Northern California, providing integrative, biological, mercury-free dentistry
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36 Responses to Health Risks from Dental Sealants

  1. Lorna says:

    Was researching a bit on preventive dentistry when I came across this post. You’re right, I as a parent am guilty of taking lightly of my kids’ oral hygiene that I only often turn to my family dentist, and the fluoride recommendation was exactly what was recommended. But if fluoride contains neurotoxins, why don’t dentists caution us patients about its dangers?

  2. Don’t feel guilty. You’ve been doing what we’re told is the right thing – which is one of the reasons why some dentists continue to promote fluoride use. It’s simply what they were taught. Fortunately, more are questioning the conventional wisdom, doing the research and finding that fluoride isn’t all it’s cracked up to be when it comes to preventing decay and caries. We encourage you to read as much as you can, ask questions, get answers and make the most informed decisions you can about your children’s health, as well as your own. We have a lot of info in our archives here, and of course there’s the Fluroride Action Network site (http://www.fluoridealert.org), which contains a wealth of information on the issue.

    Thanks for reading and commenting!

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  5. JoAnn says:

    My son who is 7 recently got sealants on his molars, along with some cavities filled. I can not believe I knew to avoid flouride, but not sealants. I am SO mad at myself.

    Ever since he had the work done, his mouth is a MESS! Tons of tiny pimple like sores, inside his mouth, way up between his gums and teeth. They are red and white, and “burst”. He also has them on the inside of his cheeck. They itch him, and cause him to make weird mouth moves, and he is always moving his tongue to sooth the itch. There is also white patches in his mouth. It is not yeast, test came back negitive.

    Dentist says it can’t be from the sealants or fillings, I beg to differ. I have been to a ton of doctors, but they all want to treat with steriods, I want to know the cause before I treat him. He just saw an oral surgeon who was fantastic, and took a piece to bioptsy, just to rule some thigns out. How can I test him to see if the sealants or fillings is causing the problem? And if it is the sealants and fillings they would have to be removed, right? My poor son!

    My husband and I also noticed he seems very forgetful, or when you tell him to do something simple, he looks at you like he isn’t understanding. It isn’t all the time, but he seems “off” sometimes. I had mentioned it to his pediatrician and teacher. I wonder if it could be connected to all this. UGH!! Any ideas of what I can do? Thanks so much for reading this!!

  6. We’re sorry to hear about the problems your son has been having but also grateful you shared about it here and are seeking answers.

    While of course we can’t make any diagnosis here, we can tell you that tests are available to determine whether the sealants and/or filling materials are causing the problems. Of these, we think that the Clifford Materials Reactivity Test is best, and you can learn more about it at http://www.ccrlab.com/. Another type of appropriate test is called EAV testing, through which acupuncture points are checked electronically to determine energetic imbalances that may be causing problems. Where the Clifford report only measures qualitative results of the immune response, EAV measures quantitatively. EAV also measures the bioresonance in the acupuncture circuits, thus the entire energy package.

    Ideally, both tests would be done to get the broadest understanding of what’s going on with respect to your son’s health. If you decide to go this route, it’s important to consult with a qualified biological dentist. Professional associations such as the IAOMT and IABDM can direct you to one in your area. The IAOMT’s practitioner database is available at http://iaomt.org/patients/search.aspx, and the IABMD’s is at http://iabdm.org/cms/index.php?id=89.

    And if you’re seeking more information on sealants, dental materials toxicity and related issues in general, we encourage you to explore our online library.

    Wishing the best for you and your son…

  7. Julie says:

    Hello, and thank you for this article.
    I just returned from the dentist today after receiving sealants in all of my molars. This has been routine for me ever since they first came in– I am now 19. I am aware of the hazards of BPA etc., but was told by my dentist that the risk is small and that it was most important for my molars to be re-patched up because I just have the deepest crevasses that would certainly rot if they were left unattended! Now, about 5 hours after my appointment, my teeth hurt a dull type of pain when I bite down- I am not sure if this is normal or not, I do not remember this happening in the past. This does not feel like it is something really good for me, but I was wondering if I can stop. Before they put the sealant in, they use phosphoric acid to burn away any forming cavities and whatever and I’m wondering if I let this sealant chip out, but never replaced it, if this would make my teeth horribly vulnerable to cavities. Do you think I can stop replacing the sealant on my teeth after doing sealant for so long? (I have also experienced a correlation between using fluoride rinse and being cavity-free- when i stop using it, I start getting small cavities that go away by my next visit once I start using it again. I don’t know what to do about this either.)
    thanks a lot!

  8. Thanks for sharing your story, Julie. As said, we can’t make any kind of diagnosis here, but if you are experiencing pain, do contact your dentist about it.

    Because of the kinds of questions you have, you may also wish to contact a biological or holistic dentist for a second opinion. See our reply to JoAnn’s comment above for links to some search tools to help you find such a practitioner in your geographic area.

    Wishing the best for you…Good luck!

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  10. Ava says:

    OMG JoAnn–read Dr. Omar Amin’s information on parasitetesting.com–info on NCS that sounds like you need to know for your son.

  11. Joe Dunn says:

    I think my children may have received sealants please keep me posted on the latest research if possible.
    I will continue to check in with this page…. thank you for this very very important information.

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  14. Robin says:

    Can the sealant be removed? All of my children have the sealant. One child I had to rush to the ER after recieving the treatment. I was told he was probably on drugs. After $10,000 later at the ER no drugs in his system, it was the fluoride treatment. The dentist will NOT acknowledge this.

  15. Autumn says:

    I have been attempting to figure out if my 6 year old should have sealants applied to her molars. I am a nurse so I do like to be educated on my choices. Now, I don’t know what to do. She has no cavities. Some of the statemeents I have read are alarming. I want to do what is best for her…like any mother. Her appointment is scheduled next month. Any thoughts? When I asked the risks of the sealants, I was told there were none.

    • It’s great that you’re doing the research to make the most informed choices possible about your daughter’s dental care, and we encourage you to continue to read widely on the topic – pro, con and neutral material alike. If she has no cavities or other signs of looming dental disease, sealants may be superfluous – especially if you’re making sure she learns and practices good home hygiene, eats a healthful diet and so on.

      Ultimately, of course, the choice is yours to make. If you decide against sealants and feel that your daughter’s dentist or hygienist might balk, print out and share some of the key research and other articles that informed your decision so, at the very least, they can understand why you made the choice. If they don’t respect your decision, you may want to seek out a holistic dental practice that will. (You can find referrals through the Holistic Dental Association, the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology and the International Academy of Biological Dentistry and Medicine, which each include a practitioner directory on their website.)

      Good luck to you – and keep up the good work with your daughter’s oral health! Caries-free at six is an excellent start!

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  17. Jerilyn Capaccione says:

    My granddaughter is 3 1/2 years old and last year when we had the great “swine flu” scare, my daughter (which her and her 2 children live with us), decided to give her daughter, Angel, vitamin C to build up her immune system not thinking that the chewables might be too acidic for her teeth. Now, with the winter coming up again, we did find an immune capsule (all natural) for her but my daughter wants to take her to the dentist because she is worried about her baby teeth–you can see they were damaged by the Vitamin C. After reading about the sealants and fluoride reactions some children have, I don’t want to see her hav more physical problems from the sealants. I know you cannot tell someone what to do or not to do, but being these are baby teeth, is there a chance that her permanent teeth won’t have any decay on them when they come in or is she definitely going to have problems with her permanent teeth? My oldest daughter also had sealants put on her teeth and between that, the mercury fillings she had years ago put in and her being on antibiotics for almost 2 years because of wisdom teeth problems, not having the money to go and get those wisdom teeth pulled, she is loaded with Candida and is working naturally to get rid of the Candida. I don’t want my granddaughter to have the same problems my daughter has had. Also, my daughter’s child in on the PUblic Assistance card and I don’t know that a holistic dentist would take the card so that is another problem. Thank you for any info you can give.

  18. Jodieinpa says:

    As a dental hygiene student I feel the use of sealants has a postive impact on my childrens dental health. I personally can see the grooves in his teeth that would harbor bacteria and food debris and it takes 30 min for your mouth to neutralize after eating and drinking. I feel having the grooves sealed allows the food slide off without sticking in the grooves. I agree with the information from The Verigin Dental Health Team, great research. I placed sealants on my son’s teeth and will do so on my other four children when the molars are fully erupted.

    Thank you

  19. Suzanne says:

    I received three sealants (for the first time ever) yesterday and ever since I have been feeling abnormally fatigued, crampy, and have had a headache. My stomach has been in knots-and making a lot of noise! I actually took a pregnancy test earlier because I felt that my symptoms were similar to being pregnant at the beginning. My whole body is achey, mostly my legs. I do not have any sores, though. No skin irritation or itchiness.

    Do you think these symptoms should be cause for concern? I have never been tired like this before. I don’t have a cold or a fever, no stuffiness in my noise, so A cold or the flu cannot explain it. I normally take adderall daily for my ADD and that does not even seem to be doing its job because I am so tired.

    Any recommendations or thoughts weather or not this could be the cause is greatly appreciated!

    • We’re sorry to hear you’re feeling so bad, Suzanne! – though it’s impossible to say if it’s a reaction to the dental work or something else or sheer coincidence. If the symptoms persist, you may want to consult a qualified biological or holistic dentist to investigate. The IAOMT, Holistic Dental Association and IABDM all have online directories of such dentists. (You’ll find links to each in the column on the right.) Good luck to you! Let us know how it goes…

  20. R~Arizona says:

    Hi! I recently had 2 sealants applied to my child’s teeth. The dentist and the hygienist told me that the product they use Ultra Dent Ultra Seal has no fluoride in it (we do not use fluoride and they were well aware of it)! After having the sealants placed I came to find out that this sealant does contain fluoride and that the fluoride is released for about 2 years. The company does not release information on the amounts of fluoride that are in each sealant. I am deeply saddened that we were manipulated into applying the sealant to our child’s teeth as well as being lied to. The dentist did take full responsibility and I appreciate that but that does not reverse what has been done. The dentist said that the sealants can be removed on the molars but that some may be left in the fissures of my child’s teeth. Do you have any information on the amount of fluoride that would be released when removing the sealants? And is it safe to remove them. Also, the dentist mentioned that on a microscopic level, some of her enamel may be removed when removing the sealants. My child has beautiful teeth and I just feel awful about all of this. Any information that you may have to share with us would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

    • Good questions! There doesn’t seem to be much research on fluoride release during the removal of sealants, I’m afraid – only on release from the sealants themselves, which appears to decrease quite rapidly once they’ve been placed. Were they placed on your child’s primary or permanent teeth? That may make a difference in assessing your options. Meantime, I’ve asked Dr. Verigin for his thoughts on the matter and hope to have more info for you shortly.

      • Dr. Verigin writes, “First, rest assured that it’s an extraordinarily small amount of fluoride in the sealant. The teeth are etched with an acidic primer, then flowable sealant is delivered from a syringe into the grooves and the etched tooth structure. The amount of fluoride released from sealants is insignificant and not apt to be a problem. The effects of removing it are more concerning, as it subjects the teeth to additional trauma.”

        Hope this helps!

  21. R~Arizona says:

    Thank you so much for responding. The sealants were put on permanent molars. We have made an appointment to have them removed but after reading what Dr. Verigin writes it leaves us to think twice about it. The dentist is assured that he can remove most of the sealant but we are still feeling as though we want to trust him but still question his honesty. It is just a very uncomfortable situation for us and we want to do what is best. For our child’s health and well being.

    Thank you
    R~Az.

    • Your child is lucky to have such caring parents, evaluating options to make the best, most informed choice possible. You may find it worthwhile to consult a biological dentist about the sealants. They’ll be tuned in to the fluoride issue, as well as structural concerns for the teeth. For most take a quite conservative approach to treatment, favoring the least invasive interventions – and doing so in the context of whole body/systemic health. To find one in your geographic area, you can use the practitioner directories freely available on the major organizational websites: IABDM, IAOMT and HDA. Meantime, we wish you the best! Let us know how it goes!

      • R~Arizona says:

        Thank you! We just returned from having most of the sealants (2) removed without the dentist harming our childs enamel. There is still a small amount of sealant in the fissures but we are okay with that (I was able to look into her mouth to observe during the procedure). We have learned our lesson big time and now are aware of fluoride hiding in a lot of products that dentists offer and use. We will be consulting with and switching over to a holistic dentist in the Phoenix area. We believe that it will be worth the 2+ hour drive. Thank you so much for your input and help with this matter. It made a huge difference and helped us with our confidence as a caring parent! We understand that dental health is so much more than brushing and flossing. What we eat has a huge impact! Dr. Weston Price is a true pioneer and his research is very informative. Just thought I would add that to my response! Thanks so much and take care! :)

        • Thank you for your good, kind words – and the great news that all went well with the procedure! Glad we could help you with info to guide your decision-making. We have to agree with you about the long drive being worth it for the sake of your family’s oral and systemic health. We have many clients who travel quite a distance to see Dr. Verigin – and many colleagues who also have a number of “long distance” patients. They’re people like you who care deeply about their health and take an active role in optimizing it. :) And speaking of Dr. Price, here’s another site that may interest you, which includes info on other key figures who worked in the same vein as he did: http://www.ifnh.org/index.html. Happy exploring!

  22. Jack rumble says:

    I’ve had many dental sealants for years. Is there still bpa being leached from the sealants or is bpa only released shortly after placement? I can’t find any info on this.

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