A common type of dental filling has been linked to slightly worse social behavior in children five years later, new research suggests.
The tooth-colored fillings in question are known as composites, and some varieties contain the chemical BPA. BPA mimics the hormone estrogen and has been blamed by consumer watchdog groups for having the potential to harm the environment and future generations. The chemical has been used for years in hard plastic food containers, the lining of metal food and beverage cans, and other products. It has been phased out of products used by children in recent years because of safety concerns.
The new research pulled data gathered during the New England Children’s Amalgam Trial (NECAT) and focused on the effects of dental amalgam, or silver fillings, compared to composite, or tooth-colored, fillings, in 500 children over a five-year period. Researchers say they found worse behavioral outcomes for children who had fillings that were not amalgams. Taking a closer look, researchers noted that there were two types of composite fillings used but only one uses BPA to create the filling.
Among the children who had the type of composite filling that used BPA, researchers found they experienced more anxiety, depression, social stress, and interpersonal relations problems. The association was even greater when the BPA-containing fillings were on chewing surfaces, which makes them more susceptible to wear and tear over time.
While the study’s findings are concerning, researchers say more research is needed to prove a cause-and-effect.