Despite being almost entirely preventable, tooth decay is a common problem among American children. By the time they enter high school, half of all children have had tooth decay and for the first time in decades, there has been an increase in the number of young children with cavities in their baby teeth. The causes of tooth decay are subject to some speculation, but the effect of poor oral health can include a significantly reduced overall health throughout the person’s lifetime.
Poor oral health leads to gum disease and tooth loss which in turn causes negative dietary changes. Studies have linked poor oral health to increased risk of cardiovascular disease and reduced life expectancy. Now there is another reason to be concerned about tooth decay in children.
A recent report has linked composite tooth colored fillings to behavior problems in children. Most fillings are either amalgam (silver colored) or composite (tooth colored). Composite fillings have a number of advantages over amalgam and are popular with patients because they are the same color as natural teeth. Composite fillings contain BPA, a chemical that has come under some scrutiny by the FDA but so far has not been banned.
The report focused on children with composite dental fillings and found an increased level of behavior disorders in children with composite dental fillings. The researchers did not measure the levels of BPA in the children and have stated that that further study will be needed. In addition, current composite fillings may have lower levels of BPA than those in the study.
Talk to your child’s dentist if you have any concerns about composite fillings. Your dentist will have the most up to date information and be able to help you decide whether composite or amalgam fillings are best for your child. Better yet, you can avoid having to make that decision by ensuring your child follows good oral health habits. Twice daily brushing, flossing daily, and regular dental check ups will go a long way toward preventing cavities. Also, talk to your dentist about sealants and fluoride treatments if your water supply is not fluoridated.
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