The Safety of Plastic Dental Appliances


A reader asked me about the safety of the plastic used in mouth guards, retainers and other dental appliances.

It seems like dentists tell everyone to wear a mouth guard, even my 25-year-old son, because they grind their teeth, which is either a testament to our high stress society or a dentist up sell. I use one because I clench my teeth and it was affecting my bottom teeth. It helps, but I too get concerned about the safety of the material used.

A wide variety of materials is used to manufacture dental devices and it’s hard to find information about the exact materials and their safety. According to the Pacific Northwest Pollution Prevention Resource Center, or PPRC, a nonprofit organization that is a leading source of high quality, unbiased pollution prevention, “Sealants, fillings, mouth guards and other dental appliances can and may contain bisphenol-A (BPA), phthalates and other chemicals of concern.”

The BPA chemical is a synthetic hormone and endocrine disruptor used in plastics, and has been linked to everything from breast and others cancers to reproductive problems, obesity, early puberty and heart disease. It has been under scrutiny and has now been removed from many plastic products including baby bottles, water bottles, and plastic toys. The FDA does not require testing for BPA exposure however, for dental materials. New federal regulations have required that manufacturers also stop using phthalates (Chemicals used in plastic household and personal care products linked to hormone changes, lower sperm count, birth defects in the male reproductive system, obesity, diabetes and thyroid irregularities) in children’s toys, but again, it is unclear whether these new regulations pertain to mouth guards. The PPRC states “ The ADA (American Dental Association) and other authorities suggest that the risk of contamination from dental materials is low compared with other sources of BPA in the environment and food supply.” I hope so!

I did read that the store-bought boil and bite guards like the ones used for sports protection are problematic since BPA is more likely to leach from plastic when it is heated.  Amazon FYI, sells a BPA-free, FDA-approved soft material tooth grinding and athletic mouth guard.

The solution?  Ask your dentist about the materials used in his/her dental appliances, about the effectiveness of store-bought guards, and request BPA-free ones. As with anything, you have to outweigh the risks vs. the benefits.

Information compiled from: http://pprc.org/research/rapidresDocs/Dental_Guard_BPA_RR_FINAL.pdf and ewg.org.

 

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Carol M Berry on January 7, 2015 at 5:17 pm

    Betsy,

    Thanks so much for addressing this. I have been curious ever since I bought one at my local drugstore.

    Thank you for the good info which I definitely will pass on.

    Love to all,

    Carol

    Reply

    • Thanks for commenting. So good to hear from you! The scary thing is the cumulative effect of exposure to so much plastic in household and personal care products. But, talking about it can bring about change, as we are already seeing.

      I’m so looking forward to seeing you at the reunion in September. Hope all is well with you and your family! Betsy

      Reply

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