Sealants are done by placing a thin layer of composite as a protective coating for tooth enamel – for once it’s damaged, enamel cannot grow back. In fact, it’s the only tissue in your body that can’t regenerate itself. (You can remineralize the dentin it protects, but once enamel is gone, it’s gone.)
Unfortunately, composite resins used as sealants – as well as for making tooth-colored dental restorations – can contain BPA, a known endocrine disruptor. Not all do, but the ones that it is found in may not be much help in protecting enamel after all – or so suggests a French study just published in the American Journal of Pathology.
The researchers found that the teeth of rats treated with low daily doses of BPA could be damaged. Analysis of the damage showed numerous characteristics that are common with a recently identified pathology of tooth enamel that affects roughly 18% of children between the ages of 6 and 8.
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Children affected by this pathology present with teeth that are hypersensitive to pain and liable to caries. Interestingly, the period during which these teeth are formed (the first years of life) correspond to the period during which humans are most sensitive to BPA.
Fortunately, sealants aren’t your only option for protecting your child’s teeth – merely the easiest. Good nutrition and hygiene practices instilled early and practiced regularly remain your best natural defense against decay and periodontal disease. While the occasional treat is perfectly fine, limit consumption of things like soda, juice and sour candies, which can speed up enamel erosion greatly.
Regular dental visits are also advised. While it may seem like a waste of money to go to the dentist when no problems are evident, a recent paper in Pediatrics shows that “more preventive visits were associated with fewer subsequent non-preventive dental visits and lower non-preventive dental expenditures for both groups.”
If you decide to go the sealants route instead – or in addition to the above – be sure to ask that BPA-free and fluoride-free materials be used. If you see a biological dentist, he or she has likely already excluded such materials from consideration.
Note: We’ll be taking a short break from blogging, resuming regular posting on July 15. Meantime, we encourage you to use the sidebar tools to explore the Know Thy Health archive and visit our library at biologicaldentalhealth.com.