I’m worried about the safety of Invisalign. I’ve been using the system for about eight months and have not had any issues with it. However, I just found out I’m pregnant. Although I wasn’t planning on having a baby, I’m incredibly excited and this will be my first child. I started reading about the precautions I should be taking, and several articles mentioned avoiding plastics of all types. Then, it hit me—my aligners are plastic. I stopped wearing them right away just to be on the safe side, but now my mind is going a mile a minute. Are Invisalign braces toxic? If they are, then how much danger have I already put my unborn child in by wearing the aligners and is there a way to undo any damage from exposure? I’m probably 5-6 weeks along, if that matters.
This is a great question that weighs on the minds of a lot of people, particularly with all the information that’s circulating on the net. It can sometimes be difficult to tell what’s what and which piece of information is true. This is an area where you will see lots of conflicting reports, so this page will break down some of the common concerns about the safety and toxicity of Invisalign and point you to reliable and trustworthy sources to confirm information.
BPA is not typically a component of clear braces.
“People became worried about BPA safety because of animal studies that showed a link between high levels of the chemical and infertility, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and high blood pressure,” says WebMD. This was of particular concern in 2008 when the CDC announced more than 90% of all adults had BPA in their systems. There was enough worry or public outcry over it that companies which manufacture baby-related products such as bottles and dinnerware moved away from it and the FDA ultimately restricted its use in some cases.
Each manufacturer has its own proprietary blend of plastics and raw materials which go into their clear braces, so it may not be guaranteed across the board, but Invisalign reports that their raw materials do not contain “latex, parabens, phthalates, glutaraldehyde, epoxy or Bisphenol A (BPA).” Ergo, if you’re going with the trade name, this is not a concern.
Cytotoxicity and estrogenicity have been ruled out.
Researchers have also looked into cytotoxicity and estrogenicity; cytotoxicity meaning toxic to cells and estrogenicity meaning the substance behaves like estrogen in the body. Ultimately, it’s these things which were the worry with BPA. There’s a fantastic article on Scientific American which breaks down the discovery of the link between BPA, hormonal abnormalities, and fertility issues. It was written in 2008 and much research has been conducted since; to the point the FDA believes BPA is safe. That being said, BPA is not even a component of the aligners and, to take it a step further, researchers have experimented with the aligners regardless of their BPA status and have reached the conclusion that the aligners do not produce any estrogenic effects.
Adverse effects are incredibly rare.
An alternate research study looked at adverse effects as a whole. It was published by the American Journal of Orthodontics & Dental Orthopedics and it looked over all adverse reports from 2006 through 2016. In 2017, the brand announced over five million people had used their aligners. That’s a significant number, but perhaps what’s most interesting is that of the millions of people who have worn the aligners, just 173 adverse events were recorded. This isn’t the total number of people, to be clear, as individuals could report more than one event each.
The Most Common Adverse Events:
- Difficulty breathing (56)
- Sore throat (35)
- Swollen throat (34)
- Swollen tongue (31)
- Hives and itchiness (31)
- Anaphylaxis (30)
- Swollen lips (27)
- Feeling of throat closing/tight airway/airway obstruction/laryngospasm (24)
There are no issues at all related to pregnancy, toxicity, or hormonal issues. Most items on the list appear to be related to allergy, irritation, or immune responses. Considering how few people have even those issues, the aligners are some of the safest medical devices around right now.
It’s difficult to imagine a safer product than clear braces.
When you look at the data and the FDA approval, all signs point to the clear aligners as being incredibly safe. Moreover, they actually serve an important health benefit. Crooked teeth are hard to clean, which means people without straight teeth typically wind up with more incidences of gum disease and tooth decay. Research presented by the American Academy of Periodontology notes that gum disease in pregnancy is linked to pre-term labor, low birthweight, and a host of other conditions which can span the child’s whole life. In other words, ditching the aligners is needless, and there’s some chance it could actually be detrimental to yours and the baby’s health to stop orthodontic treatment, particularly if you struggle with gingivitis. Keep using them as planned and visit your dentist for a cleaning and checkup for maximum health.
This blog is sponsored by Dr. Steve Sirin, a provider of Invisalign in Elgin, Illinois.