Gluten Can Damage the Mouth

There are a number of research studies demonstrating the impact of gluten on the oral cavity.  From tooth enamel decay, to painful tongue syndrome, to mouth ulcers gluten can cause a number of problems in the mouth.  After all, the mouth is part of the gastrointestinal tract, and all doctors should be trained to investigate for oral symptoms of gluten sensitivity.

Typically, when we think about gluten causing damage, we think about getting exposure from what we eat.  A new research case study identified a 9 year old girl with gluten sensitivity who was following a strict gluten free diet.  However; she developed abdominal discomfort after wearing her retainer.  The study abstract is below:

Celiac disease is a gluten enteropathy that is treated with dietary elimination of gluten. Exposure to nondietary sources of gluten, which are used in the manufacture of products such as plastics, dental equipment, and cosmetics, can also trigger or exacerbate disease. We report the case of a 9-year-old child who presented with nonspecific abdominal discomfort with abnormal serology for celiac disease. She underwent duodenal biopsies that revealed Marsh 3B histopathology. Despite strict dietary elimination of gluten, she continued to be symptomatic and demonstrate positive serum markers for active disease. It was then discovered that the child was exposed to gluten from her orthodontic retainer that contained a plasticized methacrylate polymer. Gluten is a common additive in plastics. She discontinued its use and demonstrated symptom resolution and complete normalization of serology. All possible sources of gluten, including non dietary, must be considered when managing a child with celiac disease.

Source: Clin Pediatr (Phila). 2013 Nov;52(11):1034-7

What to Do If Getting Braces

Retainer contains gluten in plasticIf you are looking to get braces, it is imperative that you get with your orthodontist and do a review of the materials that are being used.  Failing to do so could lead to long term damage and the consequences of gluten exposure that come with it.  Remember that it doesn’t take much exposure to create a problem, and the long term side effects of persistent gluten exposure can range from nutritional deficiencies, hormone disruption, gastrointestinal inflammation (including leaky gut), and progression to autoimmune disease.

I would encourage you to print out this article to take to your orthodontist.  Dentists are more apt to understand this potential risk, but remember, not all doctors are trained to consider gluten sensitivity as an issue here.  Giving the doctor the research will help you emphasize this concern and prevent a potential dental disaster.

In good health,

Dr. Osborne – The Gluten Free Warrior

Don’t forget to leave a comment below, especially if you have had problems with your retainer or other dental hardware.

Gluten Free Warrior Commentary


5 responses on “Gluten Found in Orthodontic Retainer Caused Celiac Flare Up

  1. thom says:

    been a dentist for 36 yrs and never had a clue that gluten could be found in methyl methacrylate.

    have had pts react to methyl methacrylate though. localized inflammation around the plastic but never a systemic reaction. many dentists react to the free monomer when handling the material with their fingers to shape it and form it.

  2. Judy says:

    Orthodontists need to start asking their patients if they are gluten intolerant. They also need to know what materials they are using might have gluten in them. From the little that I know methyl methacrylate resin cement can be used for bonding orthodontic brackets too .I became very ill during orthodontics and now I am wondering if this is why. The braces did not work out anyway. They ruined my bite and made the little problem I was hoping to fix much worse. They also retracted my tongue back and gave me an obstructed airway.

  3. Em says:

    My dentist made me a retainer (to preserve the positioning of my teeth), after he checked with the manufacturer to be sure there were no grains in the materials. The dentist told me that it was grain free. It took me a week to figure out that the retainer had some kind of grain in it, since it made my nose bleed. I kept track of when I wore it and when my nose bled and there was a definite link between when I wore the retainer and when my nose bled. Bloody nose = grains in retainer.

    I would think that eye contacts have a similar potential.

    Great information again Dr. Osborne…Thank you!

  4. Monique says:

    My daughter age 11 has celiac disease and was doing very well until field hockey season started and then within days symptoms began to return: fatigue, bloated belly, migraines, eczema and mouth ulcers! I searched for answers and came across this article! Thank you! I suspect her mouth guard contains the same polymer. Searching for a gluten free mouth guard! Do they exist! ?

  5. Leslie Wuerfel says:

    I had an orthodontic laboratory for 20 plus years when I started getting very ill. Had strokes and all sorts of horrible medical problems. Eventually diagnosed w MS and MMA ( methyl meth acrylics) poisoning. Had to be completely away from any form of the lab. Lost my health, business everything. That was in 2000. In 2010 I was diagnosed w Celiacs. Makes me wonder of the connection.
    There are materials that can be used to do not contain MMA. So quite possibly you can get a gluten free retainer. GodSpeed.
    Now the docs say I have a Demylination syndrome. Similar to MS but not MS. As the damage done is not progressive. This is a very interesting topic which I’ve done extensive research w MMA but did not relate to gluten. Thank you for this article.
    Orthopedist use MMA as their cement in knee and hip replacements. MMA is injected into to bone to adhere the prosthesis. I can not expose myself or it’ll be life threatening. I need a left knee replacement. This is a terrible place to be. I do not know if my being Celiac actually caused my severe poisoning. All I do know is once exposed as my level, it takes very little exposure to cause stroke like symptoms among other severities medically.

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