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Your Oral Health

The Safety of Dental Sealants

Dental sealants are a protective plastic coating that is painted onto the chewing surfaces of teeth to prevent cavities. These coatings seal the naturally occurring grooves and fissures on the chewing surfaces to provide a barrier against the plaque acids and bacteria that cause dental decay. Sealants can reduce the chances of a tooth forming new decay by as much as 70 percent and have become a highly effective and important preventive therapy. From time to time news articles have called to question the safety of dental sealants due to the potential release of a chemical compound called bisphenol A (BPA). BPA has been shown in laboratory and animal studies to weakly mimic naturally occurring estrogen. There have been concerns in the scientific community that chronic exposure to low doses of environmental estrogens like BPA could lead to an increased risk for certain diseases, such as breast cancer.

BPA is common ingredient used in the manufacturing of polycarbonate plastics and epoxies , but is not part of the chemical formulation of dental sealants. Only one dental sealant product has been shown in studies to release small quantities of BPA into saliva. The source of that BPA has been identified as being from the chemical breakdown of another ingredient in that product, bisphenol A dimethacrylate, by enzymes present in saliva. This breakdown resulted in slightly elevated levels in saliva that lasted only a few hours and could not be detected after 24 hours. A recent report by the Department of Health and Human Services’ National Toxicology Program summarized the studies on human exposure to BPA from dental sealants by stating that: “Exposure to bisphenol A through dental sealants is considered an acute and rare event. This report went on to describe that the products most likely to contribute to human exposure are polycarbonate food containers (e.g., milk, water, and infant bottles) and epoxy resins used in protective coatings of food and beverage cans. The European Food Safety Authority recently released a summary opinion on exposure from food and container sources and noted that these dietary exposures are also well below the tolerable daily intake levels established for BPA. 

There is no scientific evidence to show that dental sealants are associated with human estrogenic effects or any other adverse health effect. The potential for exposure to BPA from sealants is very rare, and when present occurs for only a few hours at levels well below those known to have biological effects. Sealants are one of dentistry's most powerful tools to prevent tooth decay and you can be assured that their benefits far outweigh any potential risk associated with their use. If you have any questions or concerns regarding sealants or any dental material, please discuss these with your dentist.


  1. Oral Health Topics: Sealants
  2. About Bisphenol A - Consumer Resources and Usage Facts
  4. NTP-CERHR Report on the Reproductive and Developmental Toxicity of Bisphenol A. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Federal Register (Vol. 71, No. 238/Tuesday, December 12, 2006/Notices)
  5. EFSA | European Food Safety Authority
  6. Opinion of the Scientific Panel on Food Additives, Flavourings, Processing Aids and Materials in Contact with Food on a request from the Commission related to 2,2-BIS(4-HYDROXYPHENYL)PROPANE (Bisphenol A) Question number EFSA-Q-2005-100 Adopted on 29 November 2006. The EFSA Journal (2006) 428, 1-75.