Is There a Link Between Orthodontic Retainers and Gluten-Intolerance?

100_1037Back in October 2013, a study from Clinical Pediatrics came to light that worried parents of retainer-wearing celiac children everywhere. The study involved a 9-year-old girl who, even under a gluten-free diet, continued to show no improvement in symptoms until her retainer was removed. Only then her symptoms began to improve and the doctor concluded that the retainer was the problem since the retainer contained Methyl Methacrylate, which is a compound used to create polymers in many plastics such as in retainers. The original case can be found here 

Although many saw the original post, not everyone saw the response from Amy Jones, MS, RD and Tricia Thompson, MS, RD, which was published on In this post, the dietitians say that “There is so much fear in the celiac disease community regarding unintentional sources of gluten especially among parents of children. We would hate to have parents worrying unnecessarily about their children’s retainers. There does not seem to be enough information provided in this case to demonstrate a true cause and effect between retainer use and tTG levels.” The majority of concern was placed with readers who only read the title or abstract without reading the entire case study.

The original study led the dietitians to contact the lead author. After discussing, both were still not convinced of the retainer’s guilt in the diagnosis. Due to the half life of tTG (which is 6 months) and an outdated report on the contents of methylmethacrylate (from 1971), Amy Jones and Tricia Thompson concluded that “enough gluten would leach from the retainer to cause an increase in tTG levels seems a bit extraordinary.”

No matter who is right or wrong here, the important lesson we must take away from these studies is that there is a lot of fear in the celiac community and it is important to question, or at least read entire studies and make conclusions for yourself.

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