Chemicals commonly found in plastics and fungicides may be weakening children’s teeth by disrupting hormones that stimulate the growth of dental enamel, according to a new study presented at the European Congress of Endocrinology.
Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that interfere with hormones in mammals. Bisphenol A (BPA) is one of the most prevalent, found in everyday items including plastic drink bottles and cups and in the linings of food cans. Vinclozolin is another endocrine disruptor commonly used as a fungicide in vineyards, golf courses and orchards.
READ the study: Enamel Defects Reflect Perinatal Exposure to Bisphenol A
The study found that up to 18 percent of children ages 6-9 may experience hypermineralisation of the dental enamel on their permanent first molars and incisors teeth, which causes sensitivity and pain and can lead to cavities. Unlike bone, enamel does not regrow, so the damage is irreversible.
“Tooth enamel starts at the third trimester of pregnancy and ends at the age of 5, so minimizing exposure to endocrine disruptors at this stage in life as a precautionary measure would be one way of reducing the risk of enamel weakening," said Dr. Katia Jedeon, lead author of the study, in a release by the ECE.
Researchers from the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research gave rats daily doses of BPA alone or in combination with vinclozolin, equivalent to an average dose a human would experience daily, from birth till they were 30 days old. They then collected cells from the rats’ teeth surface and found that BPA and vinclozolin changed the expression of two genes controlling the mineralisation of tooth enamel.
BPA can enter the body through food containers made from it, from handling BPA packaging or even from breathing in household dust that contains it. It is an industrial chemical used to make plastics and resins since the 1960s. Epoxy resins are used to coat the inside of metal products, such as food cans, bottle tops and water supply lines. According to the Mayo Clinic, "some dental sealants and composites also may contain BPA."
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