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Can Dental Sealants Harm Your Child?

U.S. dentists say not to worry

Many dentists recommend that children have dental sealants put on their teeth to help prevent decay and cavities. Sealants are a plastic coating that is placed on the chewing surface of teeth.

Few people worried about the safety of sealants until a 1996 study from the University of Granada in Spain found that some of the material used to make the sealants leached into the saliva and the mouth, reports this article from MSNBC. The substance, known as bisphenol-A (BPA) is used to manufacture the plastic in the sealants. BPA is considered to be an "endocrine disruptor" and it causes estrogen-like effects in animals. Other endocrine disruptors are believed to play a role in female breast cancer and endometriosis, as well as testicular and prostate cancer and reduced fertility in men.

Concerned about the potential health effects of the sealants, the American Dental Association (ADA) launched its own research. It tested 12 brands of dental sealants and found only one leached BPA, says this ADA statement. The association had the one manufacturer add new quality-control procedures and the leaching problem was eliminated. The ADA adds that there have been no studies showing any health problems associated with BPA.

The ADA also took blood samples from dentists -- some had sealants, some didn't. None of them had any measurable amounts of BPA in their blood. According to the MSNBC article, dentists aren't concerned about the safety of sealants and say the benefits of sealants outweigh any theoretical risk.

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