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Gluten Found in Orthodontic Retainer Caused Celiac Flare Up

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.

19 Responses

  1. 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. 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. 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. 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! ?

    1. Hello, just read your post. I am wearing a plastic retainer nightly. I would like to know if you have found retainer that has no grain/gluten. I have been on restrict grain free diet for 4 years but not getting much better. I suspect that I am exposing to gluten nightly. Please let me know your finding on this important issue. Thank you so much in advance.

  5. 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.

    1. I forgot to add – I have been diagnosed with Celiac Disease for 16 years. Had Celiac symptoms for 6 years before diagnosis, following a serious multi-car MVA (fortunately I was wearing a seatbelt). Symptoms were attributed to other causes by my family physician and a negative colonoscopy test. The Internist suggested that digestive issues could be from damage at a cellular level and I should be tested for Celiac disease. My antibodies were off the chart high. However, despite eating a gluten-free organic diet, I have occasional flare-ups with leaky gut and leaky brain symptoms, probably due to a dysfunctional vagus nerve. The Frequency Specific Microcurrent therapy is treating these issues as well, with positive results.

    2. What a frightening story of what can happen when exposed to hidden sources of gluten. You may have been Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitive which was triggered by daily exposure to gluten; then progressed to Celiac. Thank you for sharing your story. For your knees, investigate Frequency Specific Microcurrent therapy developed by Dr Carolyn McMakin DC. There are now numerous practitioners throughout the USA/Canada/Europe. I have been using this to prevent knee replacement surgery and improvement is amazing. It heals at a cellular level. Takes time, but well worth the result. ( Important to see a practitioner who trained with Dr McMakin – list of practitioners on website. Also, see a Naturopathic Doctor with advanced training in cellular detoxification and drainage. FSM works more effectively when doing cellular drainage because toxins released by FSM are moved out of the body more efficiently. Many FSM practitioners are NDs. Watch “Intro to FSM” Webinar – how & why it works ( Wishing you improved health and a successful healing journey.

    3. See night guard made thru Drake Dental labs. Started wearing two days ago claims no MMA/PMMA and other allergens. I used zinc phosphate cement for dental implant crowns due to my reactions to MMA/PMMA. Admir a fusion by Voco labs for dental fillings. See implant allergy fb page for go info.

  6. To the person that asked about permanent metal retainers, I had one for around 15 years (I had the splint type that goes behind the two top front teeth but any type can cause problems) and developed a systemic nickel allergy from it after a few years (constant severe bloating, brain fog, hair falling out, fatigue, sleep problems, eczema that I never had before and other symptoms). All my problems instantly went away when it was removed two months ago. I suffered like that for 10 years because no doctor knew what was wrong until I figured it out myself.

    1. Also about the permanent metal retainer, I do also have stainless steel screws in my feet from surgery that maybe made the problem worse, but so far except for a couple of mild short-term rashes on or near my feet it seems like my systemic nickel allergy is gone. I believe the retainer caused all of the problems mainly because the tip of my tongue was constantly resting against the retainer. And if anyone objects and says any metal you have is “non-allergenic” titanium, titanium can also cause allergic reactions plus it contains traces of nickel from the manufacturing process.

      1. Thanks for this information. My titanium implant in my mouth has resulted in health issues, swelling, infection. Then I found out that titanium implants are made from a mix of materials, and my body is reacting to one or more of the metals. Now I need to get rid of the implant and that is going to cost a fortune. Dentists should advise patients of the risk and test them for possible reactions prior to inserting the implant.

  7. Am wondering about gluten in contact lens. I know they contain BPS but would like comprehensive medical insight into this .

  8. The labs today are very sophisticated in picking up gluten sensitivity. At a minimum, there should be the mouth swab gene test and a measurement of your reaction to all of the subfractions of gluten.

    It would be great if you knew which foods cross react with gluten so to prepare the diet that is the least allergenic for you.

  9. Hey I hope to get some advice here. I have MS and even before my dx I experienced gut issues, which later on turned out to be gluten sensitivity. I am doing well and I am in remission, I follow a very strict diet which seems to be helping a lot. Today dentist suggested me to get braces, permanent metal retainers. And I am affraid to be exposed to both, gluten and metals which could lead to a flare and in my case possible problems with my autoimmune condition. Can I ask for an advice, for which “ingredients” of the braces I should look for in order to avoid this type of exposure? Is there a list of plastics/cements ets which contain gluten? And what type of metal is the most safe? I would really appreciate any advice. Thanks

  10. I was recently diagnosed with extreme gluten sensitivity which was a total surprise as I don’t eat very much gluten; I am wondering if my night guard which I’ve worn for about 5 yrs. years could be the culprit plus the fact that I had a hip replacement 4 years ago. I’ ll have to call my prosthodontist to see if he can make me a gluten free guard if my present one contains gluten.

  11. a follow up to my last post: my prosthodontist no longer makes gluten free night guards, my old one no longer fits well; anyone know if GF guards are even available anywhere? One dentist wanted me to pay $900 before he would find out!

  12. Wondering if anyone has had gum recession? I am Gluten sensitive and been wearing a night guard for about 3-4 years. During this time I have had severe gum recession. I’m in my 50’s so thought it was loss of collagen but now I’m wondering if my guard has gluten.

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