BPA FREE FILLINGS
BPA, or bisphenol A, is an organic compound used to make certain plastics very hard. The compound is most widely used within cans to prevent food from contacting the metal, consumer plastic products and in certain dental materials. The concern with the use of BPA is that it mimics the hormone estrogen. This compound can act as an endocrine disruptor, potentially causing problems related to growth and development, normal tissue function, sleep, mood and sexual function.
Recently, BPA gained much exposure in the media when in 2012, under the direction of the FDA, BPA was officially removed as an additive from the manufacture of baby bottles and spill-proof cups. Manufacturers claimed this was not due to proven toxic effects of the material, but rather to remove consumer concerns.
Within the dental industry, it is important to note that BPA is not used as a direct ingredient in composite fillings and sealants. Rather, it is used as a reactant. In theory, no BPA is present. Theoretically, the greatest exposure risk to BPA is when a filling is placed, prior to the polymerization phase (when it is still soft). Also, to a lessor degree, in what is called the air-inhibited layer after polymerization. After this step, there is virtually no release of the compound and the materials do not degrade over time, which means BPA does not appear to be released. Accordingly, even though there is little risk of BPA exposure, further steps to minimize exposure to the material can occur with simple steps.
Fillings at Van Hala
At the Van Hala Dental Group, our belief is that restorative dentistry is a last resort, and when required, should always be performed with minimally invasive techniques, utilizing the most biocompatible materials. When appropriate, ceramic restorations (called inlays and inlays) are recommended because they are made out of ceramic rather than plastic. However, when some cavities are so small, these conservative ceramic restorations are overly aggressive, and in that case, fillings are the only other option.
It should be restated that dental composite manufacturers do not directly use BPA in their products and are generally shown to be safe (http://www.ada.org/en/member-center/oral-health-topics/bisphenol-a). However, a substance known as bis-GMA is used in most composite (and in all of the most natural looking and best performing composites). Although, chemically distinct from BPA, trace levels of unreacted BPA may theoretically remain in them. (BPA is used to make/synthesize bis-GMA.) Our view is that the risk from these composites is extremely low, and when care is taken to handle them correctly, risks are further reduced.
It should be noted that there are several newer types of composites that are not made using bis-GMA, and these are considered most “safe.” In our opinion, though, there are trade-offs in using these products – as they do not handle (or mold and shape) as well. Compromises in the overall esthetics (color and texture) cause them to appear less natural in appearance.