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Orthodontics/Allergic to retainer?


Jan wrote at 2012-02-15 01:08:41
I had braces and they were removed in August 2011.  I also received an upper acrylic and metal retainer.  I began wearing it as much as possible, then was told by my orthodontist to only wear at nite.  In November 2011, I began having very swollen lips and severe chapping and bleeding.  I was referred to an allergist for allergy testing to food.  I did some food elimination, but the problem with my lips continued.  I recently went to my dermatologist and he didn't seem to know what it could be and did not recommend any further allergy testing.  I mentioned that I wondered if it could be my retainer.  The Doctor said he didn't think so, but for me to go without it for a few days.  I have been not using it for about 5 days and my lips are basically back to normal.  I called my orthodontist to verify that my retainer was nickel and acrylic.  Thank you for the response to the previous question.

Rach wrote at 2012-02-23 03:01:31
I am so glad i stumbled onto this site. My 15 year old son has been waking up with swollen lips for the past 2 1/2 months and we went to an allergist yesterday and he couldn't figure it out and I mentioned could it be his retainers. He didn't think so but said it was possible. My son and I thought back and this all starting happening when he got his Acrylic retainers. He wore his bottom retainer only last night and this morning his bottom lip was swollen but not the top lip.  I called his orthodontist this morning and she hasn't ever had a patient have a reaction but agreed that it sounds like that is his problem. He goes Monday to get fitted for the clear plastic ones he had before. He has to keep wearing the ones that are making his lips swollen until then to keep his teeth aligned but after Sunday night, never again. I pray that this is what is causing it and that Monday his nightmare will be over!  

Pam Waterman wrote at 2012-03-07 22:17:51
The above answer is very thorough, and nickel may be the answer. However, an orthodontic treatment coordinator I know just added this possibility: if she is soaking the retainer in a denture cleaner with sulfa in it, she may be allergic to that.

Wengacosta wrote at 2012-06-18 09:02:37
My 7 year old had  her hawley retainers 3 weeks ago. She developed itchy throat (thus she kept coughing) about a week later. I had her checked by her pediatrician to make sure its not a strep infection(had a fever,too) . All tests came back negative ( cbc, throat culture urine and blood culture)and said it must have been  a very bad virus. It's been 12 days now and her itchy throat hasn't improved (fever was gone after a week), so bad that she would vomit from coughing too much. I'm going to call her orthodontist tomorrow. wrote at 2012-12-08 16:34:41
i have had a retainer for one and a half years. my lips bother me so much now. i want to ask to get my permanent retainer removed but i feel like poeple will think im crazy help?


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Paul Supan, DDS, MA, MPH


First may I say please set your questions to Public so other readers can benefit from the response. Also, if you look at my comprehensive answers, they are not short 1 or 2 paragraph quickie replies that anyone can type out in < 5 minutes. Instead I often will ask other colleagues in other specialties for their advice in order to provide you the questioner with a more interdisciplinary perspective. This all takes time. I ask for readers to therefore allow 5-7 days. You will be rewarded with a very detailed response.

Because of the nature of Orthodontic questions, any pictures of the teeth and X-ray images would be very helpful. If you write to me and explain that you have crooked overlapping front teeth can be interpreted in many many ways, and my goal is to provide a specific response that meets your needs.

I hold double specialty credentials. I am Board Certified in Orthodontics and Board Eligible in Dental Public Health. I welcome questions regarding Braces, Invisible Braces, & Invisalign, as well as issues involving combination Cosmetic Dentistry and Orthodontic treatment. Orthodontics alone sometimes is not enough to achieve that perfect smile. Gingival (gum) re-contouring, tooth reshaping, bonding and other services are sometimes needed. I also have substantial experience in the areas of Infection Control and Sterilization in the Dental Environment. My personal websites and are non-commercial for information purposes only and may provide you with some background to more precisely frame your question for

Please allow a week for a reply. I am in full time Private Practice, lecture on occasion, and am involved in many volunteer activities. I am therefore not always able to respond to questions straight away. Your understanding is appreciated.


Board Certified Orthodontist (ABO Diplomate) with over 25 years of Private Practice experience. Second Specialty Certificate in Dental Public Health with research experience at NIH, and Epidemiology Training & Research at Harvard, NIH, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta. Postgraduate Masters degree from the Harvard School of Public Health, as well as a Master of Arts Degree in Education.

American Dental Association, American Association of Orthodontists, Academy of General Dentistry, College of Diplomates of the ABO, OSAP - Office Sterilization & Asepsis Procedures Organization, Others

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BS College of William & Mary, DDS Medical College of Virginia, Masters of Public Health (MPH) Degree Harvard School of Public Health. Dental Public Health Specialty Certificate from NIH. Orthodontic Specialty Certificate from University of Rochester Eastman Dental Center. USPHS clinical research experience at NIH, and Epidemiology Training & Research at Harvard, NIH, and the Centers for Disease Control. Fellow of the Academy of General Dentistry (FAGD), and Fully Board Certified Diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontics. Board Eligible in Dental Public Health. Visiting Adjunct Associate Professor at the Meharry Medical College School of Dentistry, Nashville, Tennessee.

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