Children’s Teeth Damaged by Common Chemicals

Early exposure to two commonly found chemicals could cause irreversible damage to children’s teeth.

Children's teeth are young and easily damaged

Children’s teeth are young and easily damaged

A new study has noted that bisphenol A (BPA) and vinclozolin, which are found in food packaging and fungicides, may cause issues with the hormones involved in the growth of teeth.

It seems that the most at risk component of your child’s teeth regarding theses chemicals would be the growth of the enamel. BPA and vinclozolin have been identified as endocrine disruptors (EDs) in various studies. This gives them the ability to interfere with hormone functioning in mammals, increasing the risk of reproductive problems, cancer, births defects, and various other conditions. BPA is used in the production of certain plastics and resins, many of which are used for food and drink packaging, such as refillable drinks bottles and food storage containers, while vinclozolin is a fungicide used to protect orchards, vineyards and golf courses.

The chemicals are commonly found in packaging

The chemicals are commonly found in packaging

Animal studies, which have been conducted previously, indicated that EDs could be related to a condition called molar incisor hypomineralisation (MIH), and this is thought to affect up to 18% of children aged between six and nine years. MIH is a common developmental condition, it results in enamel defects in first permanent molars and permanent incisors. Although, once tooth enamel is damaged, it cannot grow back. Children with MIH may experience heightened tooth sensitivity, especially with cold foods and drinks, and they are also at greater risk for dental caries and chipping. To identify it, their teeth may be creamy, yellow, or brown in appearance.

example of MIH teeth

example of MIH teeth

The findings of the study were presented at the the 2016 European Congress of Endocrinology in Munich, Germany. Lead study author Dr Katia Jedeon, of the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) presented the study and its findings with her colleagues. The study consisted of two experiments being conducted, this was in the hopes of gaining a better understanding of how and why exposure to EDs may be associated with MIH. Initially, the team exposed rats to daily doses of either BPA alone or a combination of BPA and vinclozolin from birth for 30 days. Doses were equivalent to the average daily dose a human would be exposed to. At the end samples from the surface of the rats teeth were taken and they discovered that two genes (KLK4 and SLC5A8) that regulate tooth enamel mineralisation were affected.


Then, the researchers cultured ameloblast cells of rats, which are cells that deposit enamel during tooth development. They found that these cells contain sex hormones, including estrogen and testosterone, which increase the expression of genes that produce tooth enamel. They discovered that testosterone increases the expression of the KLK4 and SLC5A8 genes.

These results mean that they believe the chemicals may be blocking hormones needed for the development of tooth enamel, leading to MIH.

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