What about orthodontic appliances?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created October 17, 2010 at 8:13 AM

Since adopting a paleo lifestyle, I have become increasingly aware of the foods I eat and substances I come in contact with. With that said, I do wear orthodontic retainers most nights, for the past 3 years. I'm wondering if having acrylic and metal in my mouth for 8 hours a night could be unhealthy, particularly in the long term. Anyone have any ideas?

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3 Answers



on October 31, 2010
at 05:08 PM

I happen to work in a lab that makes orthodontic appliances, and unfortunately I have to suggest that the safety of the materials is not something you can take for granted. We produce invisible retainers (generic versions of Invisalign clear plastic retainers), and we use lead shot in the production of them. The owner has us doing this because the lead shot is cheaper than the "dental safe" metal balls that we used to use. This is the only major safety vulnerability I know about at this company, but then again they don't tell me everything. And more to the point, this is the new "normal" in capitalism; every corner you can cut without getting sued is a corner you must cut to maximize your profits.

As a member of the Paleo community, you probably already know this with regard to meat, eggs and dairy - large commercial producers will stretch the definitions of "organic", "free range" and "grass fed" as far as they can to make you think you're buying what you want, even if it really isn't. So I think a lot of people have come to understand that the best food sources for them are from farmers they can visit and talk to, people that they can come to know and trust. I don't know how (or if) that kind of relationship could be built between orthodontic patients and producers, but if there is no accountability and review in the system, eventually you're gonna end up with appliances that aren't safe for you.

{Before it gets asked, yes I am looking into exactly what the safety regs are concerning the lead shot usage, and legalities and so on. At the moment all I have is my gut reaction that says lead shouldn't be used in making something that goes in people's mouths, but I don't have the facts about it. If necessary, I will whistleblow.}



on October 17, 2010
at 03:10 PM

It's probably not a lot of contamination compared to all the rest of the contamination in the air, water, food, etc. Orthodontic appliances are meant to return the oral cavity back to a more natural and healthier state, so I personally don't have a problem with them. And unlike so many other things in this world, they are meant to actually fix the problem such that you can stop using them after while, which is something I approve of. Of course, you do have to be careful of unscrupulous dentists that recommend things you really don't need (happens often) but at least for crooked teeth and a bad bite, those are things you should be able to see for yourself as well.



on October 17, 2010
at 09:44 AM

Well metal and acrylic will definitely leech a small out amount over time, but all dental and orthodontic appliances are meant to be minimally harmful. If you're afraid of any ingestion of dangerous chemicals then you need to ask yourself, what's worse, your smile and ability to chew and eat properly (i don't know how severe your orthodontic problems were) or possible leeching of chemicals?

I wear retainers at night also, but i use Invisalign, which is a pure plastic. I don't think there is much if any leeching, but i have no source to back my claim.

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