so chew on this one... it is entirely possible that the products your dentist uses to clean and repair your teeth, could contain gluten. for example, when they polish dane's teeth they have a special product they use for him because the one they would otherwise use has gluten in it. brilliant that they know this, right!? but i can assure you that most dentists don't. and in my experience, i've yet to meet a dentist other than dane's who isn't completely insulted when i pose some questions about the things they're using in my mouth. so tackle this one gently. my dentist, for whom i have incredible respect, was offended beyond belief when i first asked him about this. his response was "of course there's no gluten in anything, what are you talking about?" - he's a biodentist, with immense pride in the fact that everything he does is to support the health of your body, so i suspect he thought that i was accusing him of using something unhealthy. and he is a fiesty italian guy who speaks his mind very well! once i explained to him what celiac disease is, and how gluten is often used in colors, flavors, to help with consistency, etc, as well as explaining the potential consequences should i ingest the big ugly, he was much more willing to work with me on it. after he took a few minutes to cool off ;)
i have sjogren's syndrome (an autoimmune disease where, amongst some other pretty nasty things, has caused me to stop producing saliva) so i have met with many a dentist. i've yet to meet one who i haven't had to do some convincing that the products they're wanting to use on my teeth could potentially be harmful to me. i anticipate you having to do the same thing, so here's what i suggest you do:
step 1: start by calling your dentist office ahead of time, and let them know that you have some questions about a serious allergy you have in regards to the products that they'll be using on your teeth. find out who the best person in the office is to ask about that.
step 2: give your doc (or whoever you speak with) the benefit of the doubt and ask him/her if the things he/she uses are gluten free.
step 3: if the answer is yes, ask a few more questions to make sure that he/she has actually looked into everything. it is very common for people to assume that everything they use is safe because they would never suspect that there would be gluten in it. have grace. this isn't out of malice, but out of a lack of experience with celiac patients.
if the answer is no, or i don't know, ask if they're able to look into it. if they're super willing, great - give them some tips from the how to call a company page, and thank them! if you don't feel comfortable with them checking it out, or if you get the impression that you've just asked too much of them, offer to do the work yourself. find out the product names and companies who make them, and then get to it! if you're new to the idea of checking with companies, see this page in order to get some tips!
step 4: once you've checked everything out, and you actually go in for your appointment, remember: you need to be your own advocate. before each step of the process, double check that the product they're about to use has been checked out and is safe. even with dane's dentist who we've been seeing for a year and a half, i still check at every step just to make sure. remember this for your subsequent appointments as well, always stay aware and keep your eagle eyes on!
at the end of the day, it's important to remember this: YOU are the one living with this disease, and YOU are the one who knows what that means. we can't expect other people to think of everything, or to be able to keep us completely safe - that is our job. be. your. own. advocate. always.
here's to healthy teeth and healthy peeps -
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