What is BPA?
Bisphenol A, commonly known as BPA, is a material that’s often used to create products that have become a part of our everyday lives. Some of these include water bottles, movie theater tickets, canned goods, and plastic storage containers.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), exposure to BPA is widespread. After measuring the levels of BPA in over 2,000 people, the chemical was present in nearly every sample.
The Harmfulness of BPA
Studies on the effects of BPA have contradicted each other, with some showing massively concerning consequences of BPA on the human body while others show little to no effect.
Notably, a study in 2018 showed that BPA wasn’t nearly as harmful as it was claimed to be. According to the FDA, low levels of BPA are safe for humans. This level of exposure commonly happens when food is stored in plastic containers, but it isn’t enough to cause massive issues.
High levels of BPA in the body may lead to health conditions, but research has come up inconclusive. It’s important to note these effects haven’t concretely been linked to low levels of BPA and research is still ongoing.
Some of the effects of high amounts of BPA may include:
BPA behaves in a similar way to the hormone estrogen, meaning it can disrupt your natural hormone levels and throw your body off balance. This can result in endocrine disorders and affect your reproductive system.
In women, BPA can affect the development of eggs. This can impair puberty, ovulation, and may cause infertility. Men with high exposure to BPA could be at risk of erectile dysfunction and other sexual impairments.
Researchers fear these effects can last a lifetime and transfer to new generations.
In one study, researchers found that BPA may prevent the development of the central nervous system. Though this connection has been made, it’s yet to be discovered exactly how BPA can do this.
BPA can change the structure of the brain by impairing development and modifying DNA. There’s some evidence these changes could contribute to social behavior, including anxiety.
BPA’s similarities to estrogen may also increase the risk of breast cancer, prostate cancer, and other forms of cancer. If you’re exposed to BPA in the womb, its effects may continue throughout your entire life.
Some organs may be more prone to cancer throughout your life and be especially instrumental in the development of hormone-related cancers. BPA may also affect how well chemotherapy can help with breast cancer treatment.
Research suggests BPA can lead to cardiovascular problems and heart disease. When people use products that expose them to BPA, they may be more at risk for coronary artery heart disease, heart attacks, hypertension, and blood pressure changes.
BPA may increase your insulin resistance, leading to Type 2 diabetes.
BPA in Dental Products
Due to all the potential effects of BPA on the human body, it’s no surprise that people are worried about the presence of this chemical. Dental restorations and devices, which sit in your mouth for long periods of time, can be especially concerning.
Dental sealants are thin protective layers that can be applied to teeth in order to keep them from developing cavities. Dentists like Dr. David Blaustein often recommend sealants for children as soon as their first adult tooth grows in, but adults can also get sealants for problematic teeth.
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), dental sealants “can contribute to very low level bisphenol A exposure for a few hours after placement.” This low level exposure isn’t likely to affect your health and is considered safe.
Composite resin has become a popular material for dental fillings and tooth repair, as it can be matched to the color of your natural teeth. They’re often preferred over amalgam fillings, which have sparked their own set of worries due to mercury.
Resin fillings don’t generally contain BPA, but saliva can react with certain materials to create BPA. Proper placement by an experienced dentist like Dr. Mary Sue Stonisch lowers this risk and BPA from your fillings is unlikely to drastically affect your health.
Clear Aligners Without BPA
Nearly every brand of clear aligners claims to be BPA-free, information that can be found from a quick search of their websites. This is likely because of the large amount of backlash against products with BPA — clear aligner companies are eager to assure you their products are safe.
The most popular brands of clear aligners, including Invisalign, ClearCorrect, and Smile Direct Club, are all BPA-free. Not all of these aligners are approved by the FDA, though. At-home aligners generally haven’t been reviewed and aren’t actually considered safe.
When seeking out treatment through clear aligners, it’s best to consult a dentist who offers them. Dentists who offer treatment with aligners, such as Dr. Maya Assi who works with Invisalign in her office, will be able to tell you about the risks and guide you through treatment.
How to Avoid BPA in Your Life
Though low levels of BPA have been deemed safe by the FDA, you may be interested in learning how to keep yourself from the detrimental health effects it may cause. Some of the ways you can lessen your exposure to BPA are:
Find BPA-Free Products
It’s not as difficult as it once was to find products without BPA. Due to an increased awareness of products’ harmful health effects on the human body, many companies have changed their manufacturing process and display prominent ‘BPA-free’ labels.
Use Non-Plastic Food Containers
Storing your food in glass, porcelain, or stainless steel can decrease your risk of BPA leaching. These materials don’t contain any BPA.
Don’t Microwave Plastic Containers
If you do store food in plastic containers, it’s important to be wary of heating up these containers. Heat can cause BPA in the plastic to leach out into your food or beverage, contaminating them.
Eat More Fresh Or Frozen Foods
Canned foods and foods packaged in plastic containers are at risk for BPA leaching. Buying fresh food or frozen foods are often less likely to be packaged in BPA-containing materials.
Steer Clear Of Plastics With A 3 Or 7 Recycle Code
Plastic with these recycle codes are much more likely to contain BPA, while other numbered recycle codes are less likely to. This means you don’t have to avoid all plastic, as it can be difficult in this day and age.