Dental Restoration Materials and Physical Development in Children


According to a recent study1 published in the Journal of Dental Research, resin-based dental composites do not have a negative effect on growth outcomes in children.

The study examined whether treatment with composites, compared with amalgam, led to greater changes in body fat, body mass index, and accelerated growth in height. Resin-based composites were hypothesized by the study authors to affect growth and development in children because they contain certain monomers (such as bisGMA) that may have endocrine effects.

Researchers randomly assigned children aged 6 to 10 to a treatment plan of amalgam or resin-based composites for posterior tooth restorations. Growth outcomes were then measured over 5 years. The results, based on a statistical analysis of 474 children (218 males and 256 females), showed no evidence of an association between dental restoration materials and changes in growth outcomes.

“This study provides the best longitudinal data to date on the physical growth and development of children treated with composite restorations,” said Dr. Michael Casas, associate professor in the department of pediatric dentistry at the University of Toronto and director of clinics at The Hospital for Sick Children. “The results allay some concerns about the safety of using composite restorations in children, as no association between composite restorations and physical growth alterations was demonstrated.”

However, in the current study exploratory analysis examining age at menarche found that girls treated with composite were less likely to have reached menarche, compared to girls treated with  amalgam (48% versus 67%), but there was no difference in the mean age at menarche. “The finding that girls treated with composite restorations were less likely to reach menarche during the study period refocuses concerns about possible composite influences on sexual development,” he adds.

The study authors call for more research on the safety of resin-based dental materials. Dr. Casas agrees, “The outcomes from this investigation were determined using composite restorative materials that have been largely superseded by newer formulations with potential attendant risks that have yet to be assessed. Additional large sample longitudinal studies of this type, using newer materials, are needed to clarify the risks to children.”


  1. Maserejian NN, Hauser R, Tavares M, Trachtenberg FL, Shrader P, McKinlay S. Dental composites and amalgam and physical development in children. J Dent Res. 2012; Sep 12. [Epub ahead of print]