Several months ago an article came out in the news that linked composite fillings that contain BPA during childhood with social issues like depression, stress and anxiety. BPA or Bisphenol A is a chemical present in many plastic materials, and has been associated with numerous health issues, resulting in it’s removal from many products such as water bottles and baby bottles. One of the chemicals in composite filling materials is bisGMA and it is made from BPA. Last month’s issue of JADA included an article based on research that showed increased levels of BPA in both saliva and urine for a number of hours after the placement of composite fillings containing bisGMA.
So what do we know?
- Elevated levels of BPA can be found in the saliva and urine after placement of composite fillings containing BPA.
- In a single study a relationship was found between social issues in kids with composite fillings containing BPA.
- In the medical literature there have been links shown between BPA and medical issues.
- Other industries have worked with intention to remove BPA from common products that would result in ingestion of the chemical.
What don’t we know?
- If the association between fillings containing BPA and childhood social issues will be repeated in additional studies?
- What level of BPA is significant?
- How does the body clear BPA after the placement of a filling?
So the question is what to do in the meantime. As with all things there are a multitude of ways to manage moving forward. One approach is to weigh the dental risks and benefits of varying materials and the information about BPA’s, continue to use composite materials, but be informed so that we can address any concerns our patients may have. You can also continue to use these materials for adults or adult teeth and utilize materials like glass ionomer for deciduous teeth. It is also possible that this conversation will create a resurgence of attention about the use of amalgam, and is it appropriate as an alternative when restoring deciduous teeth. lastly, there are composites on the market that do not contain bisGMA, and my guess is that more and more of our modern composites will be reformulated without this chemical moving forward.