Composite fillings, including the kind made from BPA, became the mainstay for treating children's cavities in the mid-90s because they were thought to be safer than mercury-containing amalgam fillings and they looked more natural, said Dr. Burton Edelstein, a pediatric dentist and professor of dentistry at Columbia University, in New York City.
"This study raises enough concern about the alternative of amalgam to revisit the value of amalgam," Edelstein
There is no reason at this point to be concerned about the health effects of amalgam, or the stainless steel crowns that are sometimes placed on top of a tooth with a cavity, he
"If you've got to have a filling, you're better to go with one that does not have BPA, but that is not a panacea," Edelstein
Parents can also reduce exposure by making sure their dentist takes standard steps, like vacuuming around the tooth after applying the filling, he added.
"The only real solution is to realize that no material is better than the material that Mother Nature gave us and to do a better job of [cavity] prevention," Edelstein
Parents can help prevent cavities by helping their children brush their teeth, giving them water instead of sugary drinks and visiting the dentist twice a year.
If your child does have a cavity, "talk to the dentist about where the cavity came from and how to prevent the next one," Edelstein
"This study was clear that [higher] doses of fillings were associated with a health impact."
The study also made it explicitly clear that you should not have your amalgam fillings replaced with composites, which some dental practices will do, Edelstein
SOURCES: Nancy Maserejian, Sc.D., epidemiologist, New England Research Institutes, Watertown, Mass.; Burton Edelstein, D.D.S., M.P.H., professor, dental medicine and health policy, Columbia University, New York City; Mary J. Hayes, pediatric dentist and spokeswoman, American Dental Association, Chicago; August 2012 Pediatrics