Glutened at the Dentist: Tips to Educate the Public About Gluten Concerns

The culprit: methyl methacrylate

A quick Google search had led me to an ingredient known as methyl methacrylate which is a polymer used in many plastic items, and in particular, orthodontic retainers and mouth guards. I later received a phone call from my dentist explaining that she contacted the laboratory and methyl methacrylate was indeed used in the production of my mouth guard, and therefore it did contain gluten.

She was extremely apologetic, and informed me she would find another lab to make me a mouth guard without gluten-containing ingredients. 

Her sincere apologies aside, a number of factors stood out to me as having contributed to this “snafu” (for lack of a better word). First and foremost, when living with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, communication is key; each of us must be our own advocates and communicate ad nauseam until we truly feel heard and therefore safe.  Here, I felt I had communicated sufficiently with my dentist about my concerns, however at some point in the communication chain between myself, my dentist, her office staff and the laboratory, there was a break in the chain.  Regardless how this communication was broken (indeed, I will never know), the result was a horrible few days of sickness, which is the worst possible outcome for anyone living with celiac disease.

Another troubling issue which my story highlights is an overall lack of education in our society when it comes to gluten, celiac disease, sources of possible contamination, and the effects of contamination on individuals.  I truly believe that had my dentist, office staff and/or laboratory staff known of the possibility of gluten containing ingredients in mouth guards and possible effects it might have on patients with celiac disease, the outcome could have been vastly different. 

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