Helioseal highlighted by the New York Times

Dentists Back Sealants, Despite Concerns

Cavities or chemicals? That’s the dilemma for parents worried about a controversial substance found in the popular sealants that are painted on children’s molars to prevent decay.

The chemical is bisphenol-A, or BPA, which is widely used in the making of the hard, clear plastic called polycarbonate, and is also found in the linings of food and soft-drink cans. Most human exposure to the chemical clearly comes from the food supply. But traces have also been found in dental sealants.

Although the Food and Drug Administration has reassured consumers that the chemical appears to be safe, it has received increasing scrutiny in recent months from health officials in the United States and Canada.

The National Toxicology Program, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, has raised concerns about BPA, particularly over childhood exposure to the traces that leach from polycarbonate baby bottles and the linings of infant formula cans. The 2003-4 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found detectable levels of BPA in 93 percent of urine samples collected from more than 2,500 adults and children over 6.

BPA has estrogenlike effects, and animal studies have suggested that exposure may accelerate puberty and raise a potential risk of cancer. This month, the journal Environmental Health Perspectives reported that the chemical might interfere with chemotherapy treatment. And last month The Journal of the American Medical Association reported that adults with higher levels of BPA in their urine were more likely to have heart disease or diabetes.

Despite these concerns, the American Dental Association remains strongly in favor of sealants. Dentists note that numerous studies show that any exposure they cause is negligible and temporary, lasting no more than three hours after the initial application. And other studies have found no detectable levels of BPA in most American-made sealants. Meanwhile, sealants have been shown to offer years of protection against cavities.

“This is such an enormously valuable tool to prevent tooth decay,” said Dr. Leslie Seldin, a New York City dentist and consumer adviser for the American Dental Association. “The BPA issue, I think, is so minuscule in impact that it doesn’t really warrant the attention it’s been getting.”

Dental sealants have the consistency of syrup so that they can seep into the crevices of molars. A light is used to harden the sealants, which are then buffed smooth. The coatings prevent the growth of bacteria that promote decay in the grooves of molars.

Just this month, a review of 16 studies by the Cochrane Collaboration, a nonprofit group that evaluates medical research, showed sealants offered significant protection from cavities. In the seven studies that compared sealants and regular brushing alone, the 5- to 10-year-olds who used sealants had less than half as much decay on biting surfaces four and a half years after the treatment. One study with a nine-year followup found that only 27 percent of sealed tooth surfaces had developed cavities, compared with 77 percent of unsealed surfaces.

The Cochrane review did not address BPA, but it did cite a March review article in The Journal of the Canadian Dental Association, looking at 11 major studies of BPA exposure from dental sealants. That review, financed by the nation’s health system and conducted by researchers with no industry ties, concluded that patients were not at risk for exposure to the chemical. And it noted that dentists and patients could further limit any exposure with simple steps like buffing tooth surfaces and gargling and rinsing after sealants are applied, all of which are standard practices in most dental offices.

The review also found that three products did not release detectable amounts of BPA: Helioseal from Ivoclar Vivadent; Seal-Rite from the Pulpdent Corporation; and Conseal f from SDI (North America). All carried the 2007 American Dental Association seal.

The amount of BPA exposure can vary depending on the sealant. In a 2006 article in The Journal of the American Dental Association, researchers from the United States Public Health Service and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studied the effects of two dental sealants on 14 men, based on saliva and urine samples. They found that patients treated with an Ivoclar Vivadent product called Helioseal F showed no change in urinary or salivary levels of BPA, while patients treated with Delton Light Cure sealant, from Dentsply Ash, were exposed to about 20 times higher doses of BPA.

Linda C. Niessen of Dentsply International said in a statement that the A.D.A. says sealants are safe, and she notes that any exposure from a sealant is “significantly lower and occurs infrequently” compared with other sources of BPA.

Parents concerned about BPA exposure should ask their dentists what type of sealants they use and whether it has been tested for BPA. But researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offered this bottom line: “Sealants should remain a useful part of routine preventive dental practice.”

TARA PARKER-POPE

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Ivoclar is On The Grow! Major investment results in significant job creation and retention.

Amherst, N.Y. – Ivoclar Vivadent Chief Executive Officer Robert  Ganley and Buffalo Niagara Enterprise (BNE) President & CEO Thomas Kucharski announced today that the company will invest more than $4 million on a major expansion of their North American headquarters on Pineview Drive in the Town of Amherst.  A leading international dental company with a comprehensive product portfolio, Ivoclar Vivadent’s expansion of their facility is anticipated to create 33 new jobs while retaining an existing 215 employees.  

“Ivoclar Vivadent is very happy to finalize our plans for expansion of our North American headquarters, at our current home here in Western New York,” said CEO Robert Ganley.  “There is a thriving dental industry community here and our employees are a critical part of our company’s success.  We are very pleased that this expansion will allow us to continue to grow and prosper along with the local dental industry, benefitting from the experience and commitment of our strong existing workforce,” Ganley continued. 

Globally headquartered in Schaan, Liechtenstein, Ivoclar Vivadent has operations in 24 nations that provide products to customers in 120 countries around the world.  In addition to administrative & headquarters functions, the Amherst facility that will be expanded by an additional 25,000 square feet houses research & development, sales and marketing, education and training services and some distribution functions.  The company hopes to complete the expansion by the end of next summer.

The Buffalo Niagara Enterprise facilitated the incentive process for the company and provided assistance with workforce issues.  BNE’s President & CEO Thomas Kucharski said today’s announcement is more than just a shot in the arm for the local economy, but also good news for his group’s efforts to attract additional dental laboratory and dental product manufacturing companies to the region.

“From leading international companies like Ivoclar Vivadent to mid-sized suppliers, the dental sub-sector of life sciences is a $30 million industry in our region,” said Kucharski.  “Ivoclar Vivadent played an important role in helping us develop the dental opportunities campaign that we launched last March.  Beyond the impact of the sizeable investment and job impact, the commitment they have made to our region with this project sends a tremendous message to the rest of the global dental industry about the unique elements our region offers.”

Ivoclar Vivadent is  recognized as a global leader in the dental industry. The company distinguishes itself by offering advanced products and services for each phase in the life cycle of a tooth, from prevention to prosthetics.  The company is also unique in that it is a global company headquartered in Liechtenstein, with a CEO who travels the world while calling Buffalo his home base. 

Empire State Development and the Amherst Industrial Development Agency were also key partners in assisting Ivoclar Vivadent with their expansion.

“ESD is proud to support Ivoclar Vivadent’s efforts to provide an effective and efficient environment to produce its products and grow its market share,” said ESD President, CEO and Commissioner Kenneth Adams.  “The dental market is very competitive and this company was faced with the decision to relocate its manufacturing and North American headquarters out of New York State or expand its operations in Amherst.  I am pleased it chose New York State, where Governor Cuomo and ESD are working hard to put people back to work, get our economy back on track and restore New York State as the Empire State.”

“The Amherst IDA is once again honored to assist Ivoclar Vivadent with their expansion of their North American Headquarters in the Audubon Industrial Park.  Ivoclar is an international leader in dental technology with a comprehensive portfolio of advanced dental products. Their investment in the Buffalo Niagara region serves as a beacon to dental product firms throughout the world that our region, home to the SUNY-Buffalo Dental School, is an excellent location for investment.  We thank Ivoclar Vivadent for its continuing commitment to Western New York,” said James J. Allen, Executive Director, Town of Amherst IDA.