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BPA Found in Kids' Dental Sealant

A new study in the medical journal Pediatrics shows that there may be an unknown risk for your children when they're sitting in the dentist's chair.

It turns out that the chemical bisphenol A (BPA), which has come under scrutiny in recent years for its possible health risks and which is used in many plastic products, is found in the sealant used to fill children's cavities.

CBS News Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton explained on "The Early Show," "This is a study that looked although the BPPA compounds in dental sealants because they are used to do good things in our children and actually found that when these sealants combine with saliva, the enzymes in saliva release a BPA byproduct that is detectable in the saliva of children up to three hours after sealants are applied."

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"Early Show" co-anchor Erica Hill asked, "So is there enough that's detected or that perhaps would stay with us for it to be a major concern for parents?"

Ashton replied, "Unclear at this point. It's really not known. This study was based on a review of toxicology literature and certainly more research needs to be done. They need to test the children's urine and they really -- the EPA (Environmental Protective Agency), the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), researchers are all looking at this because it seems we can't escape it."

Ashton added more than 95 percent of Americans have traces of detectable BPA in our urine.

"This should not be a surprise," she said. "...This is a chemical that's everywhere. It can act like a hormone, like a weak estrogen, and so it affect anything from premature puberty to the prostate gland, to the urinary tract to certain types of cancers -- a theorized link -- and that comes from studies in animals, not yet people. Again, research is ongoing."

Ashton suggests weighing the risks versus the benefits with the sealants.

"The dentists will tell you they help prevent cavities. They can be used for fractured teeth," she said. "What you want to do is talk to your dentist because their technique can be very important. They should use cotton balls when they apply these. They should encourage the child to rinse, spit, use suction. They can use things like rubber dams to help prevent the saliva from going down their throat. Of course, if you're pregnant, the recommendations are you should not get the sealants applied as an adult."

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