When you live with celiac disease, as I do, it is imperative for your personal safety to know about the possibilities of gluten hiding not only in the food and drinks you consume, but in non-food items as well (medications, supplements and beauty products, to name a few).
As an integrative nutrition health coach who specializes in helping clients with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity, I hold myself to an even higher standard when it comes to being knowledgeable about myriad sources of gluten, so that I may protect myself, and share this information with my clients. (For more information on how we can work together, visit my website: www.liveonwellness.org)
However, after a recent trip to the dentist left me extremely sick (“glutened”), I felt compelled to share my story with the Gluten-Free Living community, so that what happened to me doesn’t happen to anyone else, and to spread awareness, which is imperative in a world where gluten is everywhere.
As I do with every medical professional I encounter, I made sure my dentist knew I had celiac disease which meant we would work together to ensure that any materials used during dental exams or treatments would be strictly gluten free.
When she recommended a custom-fit mouth guard to prevent tooth grinding while I slept, I reminded her that I had celiac disease and was informed that it would not be an issue. After having an impression and fitting appointment several weeks later, I was instructed to wear the mouth guard one hour the first night, two hours the second night, and increase the duration incrementally until I felt comfortable wearing it the entire night.
I wore the mouth guard for one hour the first night, and woke up the next morning feeling nauseous and had an upset stomach. I noticed my upper abdominal area seemed bloated, which tends to be a sign of accidental gluten ingestion for me, so I went over a mental checklist of everything I ate the previous few days, (followed by a glance at a food app on my phone where I log everything I eat and drink— I highly recommend that my clients keep a record of everything they eat, whether in a food journal, diary, or app on their phone), to determine if I could have come into contact with gluten. I had prepared all my own food in my home for several days prior, which is a safe space for me, and nothing stood out as a source of possible cross contact, so I decided I might have a stomach bug or was otherwise under the weather.
The next night I wore the mouth guard for several hours before removing it and woke up the next morning incredibly sick. I was nauseous and started to vomit, my upper abdominal area was extremely distended, I had brain fog and an awful upset stomach; now I knew for sure I had been glutened. Once again, I went through a mental checklist and my food app, in case there was something I missed, and this time I had an epiphany: I realized I had slept with my new mouth guard for several hours the night before, and one hour the previous night, when my symptoms first appeared.
I immediately turned to Google, since I remembered that when doing the research for my upcoming book I had come across an article about a young girl with celiac disease, who had symptoms appear after being given an orthodontic retainer.
I wondered if perhaps my mouth guard was comprised of any gluten-containing ingredients.
I contacted my dentist, explained how sick I was and asked for the information for the laboratory that made my mouth guard, so I might determine if there were any gluten ingredients used in its production.