The latest evidence in a growing body of research on the harmful effects of the chemical BPA – which is generally used to harden common household plastics – Bisphenol A (BPA) is now demonstrating damaging consequences to the natural development of the enamel of teeth. In this study led by Ariane Berdal of the Université Paris-Diderot and Sylvie Babajko, results on the teeth of rats treated with low daily doses of BPA appear to show damage to tooth enamel, echoing a pathology of tooth enamel which is turning up in children today between the ages of 6 and 8.
Analysis of results in the test rats showed numerous features that bear a striking resemblance to a condition called MIH (Molar Incisor Hypomineralisation) that specifically targets first molars and permanent incisors. This enamel pathology is found in roughly 18 percent of children between the ages of 6 and 8 and causes teeth to be hypersensitive to pain and predisposed to cavities. This latest study appears to be pointing to BPA exposure as the culprit in the increasing cases of MIH, which may be only the tip of the iceberg.
Why is this a big deal?
BPA is a chemical compound used in the manufacture of food and beverage containers such as water, juice or soda bottles and, most damaging of all; in the production of babies’ bottles. It is also used for the protective films inside drinks cans and food tins. BPA is the key element in polycarbonate synthetics and epoxy resins — about three million tons being produced annually all over the world. With so much BPA in products today, significant amounts of BPA are showing up in human blood, urine, and able to infiltrate amniotic liquid and placentas – potentially affecting developing fetuses. Earlier studies on this toxic substance have shown that it has adverse effects on the reproduction, development and metabolism of laboratory animals and is suspected of causing the same effects on humans.
Early damage to teeth may indicate more problems down the road
Significant to the Berdal study, the first telltale indicator of damage caused by the early introduction of endocrine disruptors, (including BPA) was the appearance of “white marks” on the incisors of rats treated. The researchers decided to define the characteristics of incisors of rats treated with low doses of BPA and to compare these with the characteristics of teeth in humans suffering from MIH. Macroscopic observation of marks on both series of teeth tested showed similarities, specifically; fragile and brittle enamel – the earliest signs associated with the presence of BPA and perhaps the precursor of more BPA associated health problems down the road.
How babies are affected by BPA
When you consider that BPA is so prevalent in our world today that about 90 percent of the population has it coursing through their blood stream and sensitive tissues, obtained primarily by eating foods that come from containers made with BPA. It is also floating freely in our environment, in the air we breathe, in dust particles, and in our water supply. Although mature adults are also at risk for the health consequences associated with BPA, fetuses and young children have the most to lose. Babies who are fed formula using polycarbonate bottles are especially at risk. A Swiss study conducted in 2010 revealed that babies and infants actually absorb the most BPA, primarily through the use of baby bottles, on average taking in 0.8 micrograms of BPA per kilogram of body weight. Harmful even in small doses –BPA is a hormonally active substance that mimics the natural hormone estrogen and as an anti-androgen. Even small amounts of BPA in the system can have a negative impact on sexual development, especially for male fetuses and growing babies. So alarming are the results of on-going studies that the FDA has begun to express more concern about the potential effects of BPA on the endocrine system; brain, behavior, and prostate glands – particularly in fetuses, infants and young children (developing bodies of children are less efficient at eliminating toxic chemical substances from their systems).
According to Sylvie Babajko, a source sited in the article on Berdal study, “Insofar as BPA has the same mechanism of action in rats as in men, it could also be a causal agent of MIH. Therefore, teeth could be used as early markers of exposure to endocrine disruptors acting in the same way as BPA and so could help in early detection of serious pathologies that would otherwise have occurred several years later.”