Just got Invisalign, Just got pregnant. Toxic combo?
August 3, 2017 10:59 AM   Subscribe

I just got Invisalign, and I *just* found out I'm pregnant. Now I'm freaking out about the effects of a mouthful of plastic & dental adhesive on a growing fetus. Perspective?

I've been wanting to correct my crooked teeth for 10+ years, and this year finally seemed like a good time. When an orthodontist told me I was a candidate for Invisalign, I was delighted. I liked the idea of something I could remove to brush & floss. I've also been wearing a night guard for years to prevent grinding, and was glad the Invisalign trays would work as a kind of night guard themselves.

I knew we'd be planning to have a second baby sometime during the treatment, and that seemed fine to me. But yesterday was a big day—got a positive pregnancy test (somewhat earlier than expected), and visited the orthodontist, who put about ten "attachments" on my teeth (they're little strategically placed globs of bonded dental composite that the Invisalign trays grip to) & delivered my first set of trays. Maybe I didn't quite anticipate what it would feel like to have a mouth literally full of plastic for ~20 hours a day. Maybe I didn't think the pregnancy thing through fully enough. But since yesterday afternoon, I've been freaking out deeply & acutely about the possible effects of all this plastic on a developing fetus, in a way I would not be worrying if it were just me.

I've done some research. The trays appear to be free from the most notorious leaching chemicals, though the attachment material may not be (and anyway, it's not entirely clear what the trays ARE made of). There appears to be no scientific clear answer here. I've written to the orthodontist to ask what my options are—can I delay treatment a year if I want to? I've already paid about a third of the total cost of the treatment, and I'd prefer not to walk away from that (also I was looking forward to straight teeth), but I don't want to spend this whole pregnancy and/or the whole of this kid's life wondering if I caused some unnecessary toxic exposure. That said, weirdly, I wore my trusty old night guard, which is made of a hard plastic on the outside and a softer plastic on the inside and probably contains all kinds of horrible shit, every night throughout my first pregnancy, and didn't unduly worry about that.

You don't have the scientific answer, no one does, but maybe you have some perspective. I honestly can't tell if I'm being appropriately cautious or absolutely ridiculous here.
posted by toomuchkatherine to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Anything you can taste, you will swallow. FWIW, the system seemingly made my mouth area break out and gave me a slightly sore throat. I elected to continue -- sort of -- but only wearing the stuff for a few hours a day (and taking antihistamine to dilute the effects). That makes it take a lot longer, and I'm not sure I made the right choice.

Since you have enough stress, and enough body change, in your near future, I'd put it off.
posted by amtho at 11:08 AM on August 3, 2017

I have no absolutely no data, but my gut feeling is that if there is anything in this mix that is known to be a danger to a developing fetus, your orthodontist and/or google (maybe try google scholar) will know.

That said, if I were in your place—especially if I had worn a plastic night guard during a previous pregnancy and all went well—I wouldn't give a half-second's worth of worry about this.
posted by she's not there at 11:09 AM on August 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

Talk to your Ortho, but you will get used to the plastic in your mouth. It will seem like you never can but you will. Seconded that I would not give this a moment's thought. Most people touch and eat food from plastic every day.
posted by nakedmolerats at 11:13 AM on August 3, 2017

Honestly? If you live in the developing world your body and the food you eat is already so full of traces of man made chemicals, including plastics, that it will make zero difference. Ask the orthodontist but your car is plastic, the paint on your walls is plastic, your desk at work, your computer, your phone, your refrigerator, your kitchen cabinet, your carpet, your furnishings: all of them have epoxies and flame retardants and heavy metals and god knows what else. I wouldn't worry too much about your invisalign. It's been used enough that if there was an acute problem we'd know about it by now.
posted by fshgrl at 11:21 AM on August 3, 2017 [6 favorites]

More significant than any effect from the materials will be the changes to your body's ability to resist and recover from gum disease while you are pregnant. Excellent hygiene is a must during ortho anyway, but especially during pregnancy.
Dental materials are generally safe unless you have a specific allergy, and for any given thing in the world, there is someone who does, but the risks are very low.
Just keep your orthodontist in the loop, ask good questions and enjoy your new smile.
posted by OHenryPacey at 11:28 AM on August 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

I wouldn't worry so much about the Invisalign itself, but your calcium intake. As your teeth move, bone is eroded in front of the tooth, then built back in the area the tooth left. Then it takes a while once the tooth is in its final place for the bone to build back around it so it won't move again. (This is why folk wear retainers after big time ortho treatment) Therefore you should take a look at your calcium intake to take care of that plus the calcium you'll need to make baby bones. FWIW, I and several friends worked in dental/orthodontic offices handling all that stuff while pregnant and all our kids are old and grown with no problems.
posted by PJMoore at 1:10 PM on August 3, 2017

While not in a position to answer any specific questions you may have about Invisalign and pregnancy (though it has been around for about 20 years or so, and I've not heard a peep), I can tell you that you will adapt to the trays themselves without too much issue given a little time.

I completed my own treatment early this year, after just over a year of Invisalign combined with Propel treatments. It sounds like a similar setup to yours—many buttons attached, both bottom and top in my case. The buttons, as I'm sure you no doubt already know, allow the trays to rotate and shift teeth since they are by necessity not attached directly like conventional braces.

If you're feeling hesitant about the sensations, don't. I too was rather annoyed by them at first, and the slight lisp they induced was absolutely maddening to someone who's always prided himself on good elocution, but after a week or so I adapted and it only crept back at the end of long, tiring days—a fair enough tradeoff in my mind given the rewards.

If it helps too, I managed to do it all in just over a year, in the process moving all four of my canines from positions completely outside the arch of my teeth into perfect alignment, while also pulling the upper canines down significantly and the lowers up. While vampire fangs do have a certain weird charm, this was something that I was deeply self-conscious about my entire adult life, and I have to say when I had those buttons removed and got my first good look at the finished process in the mirror, there may have been a tear or three involved.

TL;DR: Hang in there. It's worth it. I paid for it out-of-pocket, and my only regret is not knowing it was an option sooner.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 4:58 PM on August 3, 2017

The generally well-informed and otherwise highly recommended orthodontist I talked to had no idea of the composition of Invisalign plastic nor the health implications of it.
posted by amtho at 7:23 PM on August 3, 2017

The generally well-informed and otherwise highly recommended orthodontist I talked to had no idea of the composition of Invisalign plastic nor the health implications of it.

That's just a lazy answer then, because he's required by law to have an MSDS for every material he uses in his practice, and if he doesn't have one the lab that fabricated the appliance sure would and it could be faxed over in a matter of minutes.
posted by OHenryPacey at 7:36 PM on August 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

Probably no worse than microwaving food in plastic bowls.
posted by chiquitita at 9:11 PM on August 3, 2017

Thanks, everybody. I appreciate all of this, and roger the advice about the calcium; that's a good reminder.

I feel a lot calmer now. I put a question in to my ortho about whether I can wait or not, but I may decide to continue anyway.

@amtho, I think I am feeling a slight sore throat as well! I was wondering if I was imagining it, or just coming down with a cold, but I think it's neither. It does give a little pause.

Anyway, I'm going to take the weekend to tell a couple of close family members and keep thinking it over. Your input really helps, thanks.
posted by toomuchkatherine at 7:33 AM on August 4, 2017

Another angle to think about this from - what if you have bad nausea/vomiting? I'm 12 weeks pregnant, have had extreme morning sickness and would not have been able to handle having aligners in my mouth (or an orthodontist for that matter.)
posted by tatiana wishbone at 5:23 PM on August 4, 2017

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