Debra Lynn Dadd

Bisphenol A Exposure from Plastic Mouth Guards

QUESTION:

I am pregnant and have been reading a lot about the danger of bisphenol A exposure to developing fetuses (e.g. recent San Fran attempt to ban this chemical from baby products). This chemical is found in polycarbonate plastic among other places. I am concerned because I grind my teeth and wear a polycarbonate mouth guard nightly. I worry that BPA may be leaching from my mouth guard and harming my unborn child. I have spoken with numerous dentists but none were that knowledgeable on the subject. I contacted dental labs but have not been able to find a “toxin-free” alternative material from which the guard can be made. I also have not been able to find any research about the risks of wearing mouth guards during pregnancy. 

Unfortunately I need to wear my mouth guard or risk breaking my teeth. Do you have any insight or advice for me?I am pregnant and have been reading a lot about the danger of bisphenol A exposure to developing fetuses (e.g. recent San Fran attempt to ban this chemical from baby products). This chemical is found in polycarbonate plastic among other places. I am concerned because I grind my teeth and wear a polycarbonate mouth guard nightly. I worry that BPA may be leaching from my mouth guard and harming my unborn child. I have spoken with numerous dentists but none were that knowledgeable on the subject. I contacted dental labs but have not been able to find a “toxin-free” alternative material from which the guard can be made. I also have not been able to find any research about the risks of wearing mouth guards during pregnancy. 

Unfortunately I need to wear my mouth guard or risk breaking my teeth. Do you have any insight or advice for me?

POSTED BY MIRA :: OREGON USA :: 01/17/2007 8:16 AM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

It can be confusing to make decisions about exposures to toxic chemicals of all kinds because in a addition to how toxic something inherently might be, "the dose makes the poison," meaning, how much you are exposed to and the frequency of exposure determines the toxicity in your body more than the inherent toxicity of the substance itself. Salt, for example, is essential to life, but can be deadly if too much is eaten at one sitting.

Bisphenol A is known to have negative health effects (read all about them at Our Stolen Future: Bisphenol A). According to Our Stolen Future, "Research over the past decade has established that BPA alters cellular function and disrupts developmental processes at exquisitely low levels, far beneath EPA's current 'reference dose' for the compound, and at levels to which many people are exposed daily, in the US and other countries."

Bisphenol A has been most highly publicized for it's presence in clear and colored transparent polycarbonate plastic, because of the popularity of using this plastic for water bottles. Bisphenol A leaches from polycarbonate as the plastic ages. The rate of degradation depends on how the plastic is used. If exposed to acid or alkaline solutions, or heated, the rate of leaching increases. When you wash water bottles in a dishawasher and reuse them, for example, that process accelerates the leaching. Therefore, a new plastic water bottle would leach less bisphenol A into the water than one that has been reused many times.

It's likely, though, that you are being exposed to bisphenol A from many other sources. It is also used to make the resin that lines metal food cans to prevent the metal from contact with food. Some estimates approximate that 80% of metal food cans are lined with bisphenol A resin, and it's not on the label. Another reason to eat fresh food.

Bisphenol A is also used in the manufacture of epoxy resins and other plastics, including polysulfone, alkylphenolic, polyalylate, polyester-styrene, and some polyester resins. It is also used as a fungicide, antioxidant, and a flame retardant, in the making of rubber chemical, and to stabilize polyvinyl chloride.

It is used as a plastic coating for children's teeth to prevent cavities and to make plastic food containers, refrigerator shelving, baby bottles, micro-wave ovenware, eating utensils, and returnable containers for juice, milk and water. You might also be exposed to bisphenol A in adhesives, false teeth, nail polish, compact discs, and other common items.

I've learned from my past study of plastics that soft plastics leach more than hard plastics, so a bendable plastic water bottle would leach more than a hard brittle item made from polycarbonate, such as a blender container. So I would think that your dental device would leach less than a water bottle, but since you are wearing it for hours every night, that increases the exposure time and regularity.

The only way to know for sure what the danger is would be to have some kind of laboratory test to see how much bisphenol A leaches from the device in the presence of saliva over an 8-hour period. Ask your dentist and see if you can find out the manufacturer to see if they have any such studies.

I don't want to say it's OK to use this, since I'm not 100% sure, but on the other hand, you may be being exposed to more bisphenol A from other sources.

If it is necessary for you to use this device and there are no other alternatives, you might want to do some other "detox" things to offset this chemical exposure, such as drinking more water, more exercise, eating more raw vegetables, and other things that tend to cleanse chemicals from the body.

Debra :-)


COMMENTS:

Hi,
I have the exact same problem with grinding my teeth horribly and am also currently pregnant and had the very same concerns. I decided to try and wean myself off of wearing the night guard every single night so I could lessen possible risks while also saving my teeth.

I have found for myself if I only wear the guard every other night or every 2nd or 3rd night, I do not have the problems that go along with grinding my teeth every single night. And even using the guard 1/2 as much by wearing it every other night still cuts your exposure to the plastic it in half.

It might not work for everyone, but I did have a pretty bad habit and so far so good for me...

Good luck!

POSTED BY JEN :: COLORADO USA :: 01/23/2007 11:56 AM


I also wear a splint at night but hadn't wanted to consider the issue of toxicity in detail. I would suggest checking out Clifford Consulting and Research and Huggins Diagnostic Labortory. You can find their websites through Google. Both can test dental materials for compatibility with your body and I believe both offer paid consultations if you simply want information.

POSTED BY MARY :: CA USA :: 01/25/2007 4:33 PM


The use of a mouth guard to eliminate teeth grinding is not as necessary as one would think. As a practicing homeopath I have worked with clients who have had this problem and found homeopathy to be quite efficacious in eliminating it. Hence, teeth grinding is part of a pathology that can often be resolved. Consider seeing a homeopath in your area. You may find not only the teeth grinding disappear, but many other symptoms that seem unrelated. For example, food allergies are often closely related to teeth grinding. Best of luck. Joette Calabrese

POSTED BY JOETTE CALABRESE,HMC :: HOMEOPATHYWORKS.NET :: HOMEOPATHYWORKS.NET :: NEW YORK USA :: 01/30/2007 10:52 AM


I find this topic really interesting because I grind my teeth and wear a mouth guard also. I really don't know what it is made of, but I have mercury fillings that I have not yet had removed, so I assume that grinding my teeth and releasing the mercury is much worse than the plastic exposure. I am pregnant too with my third child and the grinding is always much worse during pregnancy. It is interesting that 3 people on this list are pregnant and having the same problem. I wonder what the connection is...

POSTED BY LEAH :: MICHIGAN USA :: 02/07/2007 1:44 PM


I also wear a mouth guard, and I also tried to "wean" myself off it but was unsuccessful. I find that if I don't wear it, I end up with headaches and a painful neck each morning. So, I gave up and went back to the mouthgaurd. I have to say that I really agree with Debra's view - there are so many toxins that we are unfortunately exposed to, that all you can do is try to make better choices where you can and then keep yourself healthy.

I read a similar comment on another website where the authors were discussing the benefits of eating fish vs. the mercury and pollutant content issue. Their view, with which I agree, is that if you can keep yourself healthy and reduce your toxic load in other ways - ie eat organic vegetables, avoid processed foods etc. - then your body will probably better handle any toxins from the fish than would someone who eats hamburgers, chips, and soda from McD's every other day.

I agree that when you are pregnant that EVERYTHING around you seems dangerous, so, at some point, you may have to also just say to yourself that you are basically doing all you can -- which is more than a lot of people with perfectly healthy babies do -- and try not to think about the worst case scenario for everything you touch or put into your mouth. That is what I had to do when I was pregnant and what I do now while nursing my now 18 month old daughter.

POSTED BY JUSTINE :: BC CANADA :: 02/19/2007 1:46 PM


I'm a grinder, too, and just got a second mouth guard today from my dentist after the first wore out over a few years' time. As soon as he put it in, I noticed the unmistakable smell and taste of the fixant which is used in application of acrylic nails. I had acrylic nails for a few months many years ago, and know that the compound is the reason the nail techs are required by law to wear masks in the salons. I believe it is either xylene or tulene, both very carcinogenic and well known to cause brain damage, liver damage, etc. One reason I quit fake nails was because I felt guilty knowing that these ladies were constantly exposed. I asked the dentist about it, and he said he had never heard of either substance, but would look into it. I wondered if he would, and stumbled onto this site in my own search. I doubt if it will be easy to find out the answer. On a side note, the top oncologist in the world lives in Belgium. He has an 80% success rate with his patients, including those who are considered terminal with a short time to live, but the first thing he insists on are that any of the metal fillings the patient has are removed.

CG

POSTED BY CELIA GARDNER :: WA USA :: 02/11/2008 3:26 PM


I wore a nightguard, too, for decades and have had a problem with weight gain during that whole time. There is a link between bisphenol-A and being overweight. It interferes with the body's ability to metabolize protein. Studies are now under way to study a possible link with the obesity epidemic, bisphenol-A, and other compounds. I asked my dentist to find out what my night guard was made out of, too, but he wouldn't, afraid, I think, of possible repercussions, so I'll have it independently tested if I can find a reasonably priced lab.

POSTED BY JAN :: CALIFORNIA USA :: 02/18/2008 4:02 PM


I was finally able to throw away my nightguard. A dentist/professor at the U of WA Dental School taught me jaw exercises to do along with cold packs every day. I was also taught how to correctly hold my tongue. I no longer grind my teeth.

The dentist's name is Dr. Truelove That's his real name.

POSTED BY AIMEE :: WA USA :: 02/18/2008 5:34 PM


I just read your advice to someone inquiring about the toxicitiy of acrylic drinking glasses from Costco. That led to my rethinking my entry above of January 2007. There are indeed labs, as I mentioned therein, that can assess the compatibility of acrylic splints with the body by way of a blood test, but I believe that the test is based on the immune systems response to the material, not toxicity per se. For what it's worth, out of some 100 materials, I had a negative reaction to 15.

But now I am wondering whether the supposedly acceptable splint materials are toxic as such. As I am about to begin wearing a splint again, I will be looking for information. Meanwhile, here are some thoughts.

One thing I try to do on a daily or frequent basis is eat those substances that are known to help the liver detoxify, such as foods in the broccoli family, most berries (they contain ellagaic acid), B vitamins, beets, taurine ( an amino acid) and magnesium. This refers to Phase II liver detoxification pathways if anyone wants to research it.

Something I did when wearing a splint was leave a glass of water by the bathroom sink and rinse my mouth in the middle of the night when I got up to the bathroom which no doubt the pregnant women do.

I believe the ability to keep the jaw relaxed at night is related to blood sugar levels and also mineral levels in the blood, and it seems possible that pregnant women would be more likely to have mineral imbalances. Perhaps a nutrition-oriented chiropractor could be of assistance.

I once read of someone who successfully gave himself auto-suggestions at bedtime that he would keep his jaw relaxed all night.

Perhaps we have to consider the risk/benefit ratio-- if the splint does release some toxins but we receive enormous benefit, perhaps it a fair trade-off.

Debra, I am thinking you said you know a dentist who practices non-toxic dentistry and I am wondering if that person might have some information about the toxicity of splint materials.

POSTED BY MERRYSPIRIT :: CALIFORNIA USA :: 02/18/2008 8:10 PM


I have been concerned about this very same thing: BPA exposure from a night guard. And after reading a ton of stuff on the Internet... it seems that hard night guards are made from acrylic which is not the same thing as polycarbonate plastic. What makes you think that your night guard is made from polycarbonate? All the sites that refer to night guards basically state that they are acrylic. Acrylic does not use BPA, from what I can tell in my research.

POSTED BY CONCERNED :: CA USA :: 03/24/2008 11:20 PM


I use a mouthguard only because I called the manufacturer and was told the plastic used is polypropylene not polycarbonate. Being a breast cancer survivor, I didn't want to be exposed to toxic plastics and polypropylene is not toxic (at least with today's research). It is the same thing as a #5 on food grade containers. Call your dentist and find out the manufacturer and call them and insist on the information.

Kathy Paris

POSTED BY KATHY PARIS :: WASHINGTON USA :: 04/01/2008 8:08 AM


Thanks for all the comments. I actually had a new mouthguard made out of methacrylic. I hope this is a safer material. I haven't found a lot of information on it though and would appreciate any insights you all have.

I had a few options to choose from when making this new guard and found that some styles contained materials (such as phthalates) that may have negative health consequences. I also have a friend with one made out of Lexan which I believe is a type of polycarbonate plastic. Given the range of materials available and the way these guards are used (concentrated exposure at night for prolonged periods of time) I think it is important that one checks their construction. I would be very interested in any scientific studies on exposure levels from using these dental devices. I haven't been able to find any.



POSTED BY MIRA :: OREGON USA :: 04/02/2008 12:24 PM


I was worried about BPA exposure when I was pregnant with my now 6 1/2 month old little boy. I did my best to eliminate the exposure however I did find a study by Duke University Researchers.

The study found "When pregnant mothers of this strain were given BPA, a significant higher number of their offspring were born with yellow fur. Prior research has demonstrated that agouti mice that are yellow tend to have a higher risk for diabetes, obesity, and cancer as compared to brown counterparts."

"In addition, the research team also observed that when the pregnant females were given folic acid or genistein (an active ingredient in soy), it prevented the inherited changes."

Hope this helps a little bit.

Study: Exposure to Plastic Bottles in Pregnancy Can Affect Child's Health

POSTED BY SMILINGMOM :: ARIZONA USA :: 12/09/2008 1:26 AM


What are the regulations or guidelines regarding the type of plastic materials which can be used for mouth guard applications

COMMENT FROM DEBRA: I would suggest you ask your dentist for this information.


POSTED BY DAMATHAMA :: MARYLAND USA :: 01/30/2009 1:56 PM


My acupuncturist treats people who grind their teeth very successfully. Even those who bite through their night guards regularly...

POSTED BY RR :: NEW YORK USA :: 04/27/2009 2:11 PM


The holistic dentist that removed my mercury has nightguards made out of Erkdoc-pro, which I assume is safe. But I can't find it on the internet.

POSTED BY LAURA :: CALIFORNIA USA :: 06/02/2009 9:28 AM


Hi,

I came across this because I was having similar concerns and wanted you to know I found a bpa-free mouthguard!!!

SleepRight Dental Guard - they're bpa-free and latex free.

I purchased a cheap $2 mouth guard today after visiting the dentist, but figure I shouldn't do too much more damage to my teeth (grinding) if I just wait on the bpa-free one to arrive. The lack of regulation of our products here in the states is just ridiculous...

I hope this helps!!! :)

POSTED BY MELISSA :: WASHINGTON USA :: 08/24/2009 5:03 PM


I use a Snoremate mouthguard for mild sleep apnea.It has helped, but I am also concerned about it's chemical make-up. I have emailed the company (they are in South Africa),but have gotten no response. I understand that Europe has outlawed the use of Polyvinylcarbonate(sp?) so I wonder about other countries. This is a boil and bite type of appliance and PVA is commonly used. It is really hard to get information! I am now ordering from a new company called Prosnore. Their oral sleep appliance is made from EVA. According to a safe plastic website, this is a better alternative.Hope it works. I am glad this website is out here. It appears you are the only one of this nature.

POSTED BY SUSAN :: MAINE USA :: 11/11/2009 11:03 AM


I am also using the SleepRight Dental Guard for teeth grinding because it does not contain BPA, phthalates or latex. I also decided to buy it because you do not have to boil it in water in order to make it fit. There are other dental guards out there that you have to boil, but boiling plastic and then putting it in your mouth sounds toxic to me. So far it works great and is more comfortable than the one my dentist made for me.

POSTED BY CATHY :: :: WWW.SPLINTEK.COM :: CALIFORNIA USA :: 11/23/2009 7:03 PM


I had a dentist-made mouth guard, one you heated under tapwater before placing - I tasted a sweet taste some mornings; I developed a sinus condition and a husky, phlegmy cough. I stopped using the mouth guard and within 2 days my symptoms were almost gone. I wonder/worry about xylene, which is used in some guards.

POSTED BY JOHN S :: UTAH USA :: 12/28/2009 4:14 PM


:: POST YOUR COMMENT - not active during site migration

Return to Q&A Blog

Debra's List ~ 100s of links to 1000s of nontoxic, natural & earthwise products
Debra's Free Newsletters ~ website update, natural sweetener recipes, words of wisdom
Debra's Bookstore ~ recommended reading on health and the environment
MCS Recovery ~ resources for recovery from multiple chemical sensitivities
Sweet Savvy ~ how to choose and use natural sweetners (lots of recipes)
Talk With Debra ~ call for a personal consultation (fee)

Copyright ©2004-2007 Debra Lynn Dadd - all rights reserved.