TUESDAY, Sept. 7 (HealthDay News) -- The fillings and sealants that many dentists use can expose children to the controversial chemical bisphenol A (BPA), a new analysis indicates, but such exposure is short-lived and it remains unclear whether or not it poses a long-term health risk.
Although these products do not contain pure BPA, saliva can cause the fillings and sealants to leach. This releases the chemical into the mouth and breaks it down to its pure form, the researchers explained.
While the study authors do not recommend a ban of these dental products with pediatric patients, they caution parents and dentists to take steps that could minimize any potential risks associated with exposure to the ubiquitous chemical, which is found in many plastic products and has been linked to health issues such as male impotence, infant behavioral problems and birth defects.
"The research that exists shows that upon contact with enzymes in the saliva some, but not all, BPA derivatives break down to pure BPA, and that BPA is said to be in saliva for a short time period of up to three hours," explained study author Dr. Abby F. Fleisch, a pediatrician in the department of medicine at Children's Hospital Boston, which is part of Harvard Medical School.
"However, much of the risk that might be associated with this exposure is theoretical," she noted. "So, there's still a need for additional research looking at both systemic absorption -- as a result of this BPA exposure -- into the blood and the urine, and whether there is a more chronic low-level leaching of BPA underway."
Fleisch and her colleagues report their findings in the October issue of Pediatrics.
Strong, easy-to-use and translucent, dental resins and sealant composites that contain BPA are a popular tool used to protect teeth from decay and to repair decayed, broken, or malformed teeth.
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