A Trip To The Dentist And The Plastics Therein

Our Trip To The Dentist and the Plastics Therein. Photo © Liesl Clark

“Please don’t have him eat candy for a day.”

What? I was standing in a dentist’s office, and these were the first words out of the dental assistant’s mouth after my child had some ‘routine’ protective sealant put on his molars. No candy for a day? How about a month or 6? We don’t do candy all that regularly, so to hear her put the limit at 24 hours felt like a license, to my child, for everyday candy in the house, perhaps even a piece or 2 every 4-6 hours. Thank goodness that happy gas was still in effect, for he had a look of mirth on his face while he questioned me about it.

But what I want to know is this: Why is a dental office for children the purveyor of so much cheap plastic crap? This trip to the dentist was truly enlightening for us all — and has served to alter our trust in dental-care in general. I can give you 4 reasons why:

1) That little bin with the plastic junk in it, meant as “prizes” for even showing up at the dentist, was an early highlight. My kids both chose the same toy so they wouldn’t be jealous over the other’s better choice. Their choice x 2!?  A squeezable caterpillar that off-gases more toxic fumes than a PVC shower curtain.

2) Both children complained at how sick they felt from the sweetness of the stuff the dentist used to clean their teeth.

3) Quite disturbing for me was the amount of plastic we left with, each child carrying a little plastic bag filled with free stuff (see the photo above.) Here’s the short list of their freebies x 2:

— A new sample-size tube of Colgate toothpaste.

— A single-use plastic applicator flosser packaged in a plastic bag.

— A new plastic toothbrush complete with plastic packaging.

— A plastic baggy filled with those cool pink pills that show you how well you’re brushing, or not.

— A bigger plastic bag to hold all the plastic crap held in smaller plastic bags.

— A carton of dental floss (okay this one’s an acceptable freebie in my book as there are no plastic-free alternatives that I know of, yet.)

Well, the kids’ teeth got high marks for cavity-prevention from the dentist, yet I didn’t dare tell the dentist we use bamboo toothbrushes and make our own toothpaste mostly in an effort to reduce our plastic footprint. How is a family to keep up their standards of low-impact sustainable dental care after a visit like that? And we have to do this every 6 months?

On the drive home, as we sniffed our new PVC caterpillar toys now flung in the back of the car, I started wondering if my child truly needed those protective molar sealants in the first place? The molars looked good on the X-rays. “It’s optional, but we highly recommend it,” were the words of encouragement from our dental professional.

4) I looked up the sealant as soon as we got home to see what it was made of and, surprise of all surprises, it’s a plastic resin akin to those found in baby bottles, complete with the same endocrine-disrupting chemicals such as BPA and pthalates. What have we done?! 

Now that I’m well-versed in the the debate over whether dental sealants are safe for kids, I’m kicking myself for not having had a clue. I, the mom who has spent the past 6 years divesting our home and bodies from plastics, opted to seal them into my child’s mouth. Anyone know if sealants can be unsealed without the use of toxic chemicals? Likely not.

14 thoughts on “A Trip To The Dentist And The Plastics Therein

    • Hi Aerie01: I appreciate this. I had read this NIH article and felt that had I known that the sealants have BPA in them at all, I would opt out.

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3354837/

      Although the ADA mentions that the levels are low, just the fact that they’re there at all, and there have been studies to prove leaching does occur, was an eye-opener and I felt it necessary to let others know and decide for themselves. I’m not adverse to the use of plastics in medicine, as I realize they’ve revolutionized use of IV, etc. but putting potentially unnecessary sealants into my child’s mouth, with even trace amounts of BPA, just isn’t something I would’ve done had I known. Drat.

      Many thanks for the link!
      L.

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  1. One step forward, three steps back. I’m sorry for your children teeth being sealed like this – is there a way you could ask the dentist to remove them? Tell him of your concerns (and even your values, which matter) and see if there is a way round it.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hi Liesl,
    If you have any recommendations for dentistry on Island, I would love to hear them. Recently left our dentist over their stance that my three kiddos have x-rays. I’m not against x-rays outright, but I do feel it is overdone in the industry and the situation was handled poorly by the dental office. I’m on the look out for a more natural approach to keeping our family’s teeth in pristine condition.

    Thanks you!

    Like

    • Hi Patricia: I don’t have any recommendations on the island at the moment because after Kitsap Kids (which has since moved), we’ve been going to various places in Bremerton and none have been all that great. I’m appalled by how much of a “business” dentistry is these days. Caveat emptor.

      Like

  3. What an experience! I’ve never been to the dentist with a child, but it is easy enough for myself to refuse all the extra stuff they try to give you, like toothbrushes, floss, and paste. I’m sure that is more difficult to do with children. Had no idea about the sealant either.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for sharing your dentist experience. Have you uncovered any truth about thr toxicity of the plastic sealant since you first posted this? I’m mighty curious! My aunt had a mercury (I think) filling put in when she was a child and her vision and other things suffered as a result. What is the answer… Hmm…

    Ps. What’s your toothpaste recipe??

    Like

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