According to a new reasearch, BPA or bisphenol-A, which is used in certain types of children’s tooth fillings can lead to a slightly increased risk for behavioral problems five years down the line.
BPA is a chemical found in cans and other food packaging which earlier too was linked to health risks such as cancer and birth defects and the disruption of normal development in babies and kids.
Environmental groups say it should not be used in any products children use. Over the past few years, it has been phased out of baby bottles and other products. BPA is also found in the air, dust, and water, so exposure is widespread.
“Some tooth-colored fillings known as composites were associated with worse social behavior in children age 11 to 16 at the end of the study,” says researcher Nancy Maserejian, ScD, an epidemiologist and senior research scientist at the New England Research Institutes.
“The composites that were associated with these problems include a chemical called bisGMA,” she says. The chemical bisphenol A or BPA is used to create bisGMA.
The study involved 534 children between ages 6 and 10. Several of the children had dental amalgam fillings, popularly known as “silver fillings”. They were compared to kids with newer types of fillings: one called a componer, which is made of a urethane dimethacrylate-based polyacid-modified composite, and another made of a bisphenol A-glycidyl methacrylate (bisGMA)-based composite, which contains BPA.
Some concerns have been raised over amalgam (“silver”) fillings because they contain mercury, but the FDA does not recommend their removal if they are in good condition.
The Study Findings
The study showed no associations were seen between behavioral test scores and the componers or silver fillings.
Maserejian stated that the differences in behavior were small but may be significant.
“On average, the difference in social behavior scores were very small and would probably not be noticed for each individual child,” she said. “But imagine a huge group of children around the country; you’d probably notice a difference.”
Further research is needed, says Paul Casamassimo, DDS, director of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry’s Pediatric Oral Health Research and Policy Center.
“We need to be constantly vigilant with kids and look at what we do and find out if these are valid findings over the long term,” says Casamassimo, chief of dentistry at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.
“It’s a surprise finding that needs to be verified,” says Mary J. Hayes, DDS, a spokeswoman for the American Dental Association (ADA) and a pediatric dentist in Chicago.