Dental Tips Blog


Latex Allergies and the Dentist

Latex allergies can range from minor skin irritation to severe responses that result in very painful, dangerous conditions. When patients see a dentist for the first time, it’s important that they let the front desk know they have a latex allergy well before they ever go back into the treatment area. Many times people simply get into a habit and may make contact with the patient wearing a latex glove before they realize there is even an allergy.

Your Alpharetta dentist will set up some type of alert system to notify the team at each visit that there is an allergy. It may be an automatic pop up that comes up on electronic charts, or a sticker on the outside of a patient file. Each office uses different ways to signal latex allergies, because they affect care from the very first seconds they see a patient.

Most dental offices use nitrile gloves as an alternative to latex when they are treating patients with allergies or sensitivities. Although in the past, some other pieces of equipment may have contained latex, most of those now currently used in dentistry do not. Dental dams are one exception, and do still contain latex due to the elasticity of the material, so those will need to be avoided and alternative methods used.

Allergies should always be taken very seriously, no matter how severe they are or what the patient is allergic to. Some minor allergies can easily become atypical allergic reactions that are much more severe than they would have been in the past. Always be sure to avoid irritants, and keep your dentist up to date on any medical conditions that you may have.

Posted on the behalf of Dr. Sarah Roberts, Crabapple Dental



Four Common Dental Allergies

Allergies are one the great enemies of good health and dental allergies are no different. If you have experienced heart palpitations, sweating, shaking, headache, itching, nausea or skin irritation during or following a dental treatment, it is possible that you have an undiagnosed dental allergy. In fact, research suggests that dental allergies are more common than previously thought. Here are four of the most common dental allergens.

  • Metals – Nickel, gold and mercury are metals commonly used in dental restorations (crowns, bridges, dentures, inlays) and in orthodontic appliances (braces, bite plates, spacers etc.).  These alloys can trigger a range of disturbing reactions in allergic individuals including itching, rashes, mouth ulcers, stomatitis (inflammation of the mouth structures), and even anaphylactic shock.
  • Latex – Natural latex rubber is a material found in many dental apparatus including gloves, dental dams, anesthesia syringes and catheters. People with a latex allergy experience a range of symptoms when exposed to the substance, whether through direct physical contact or by inhaling latex particles in the air. The most common reaction is skin dryness and itching, however, in severe cases, latex allergy can result in conjunctivitis, rhinitis, abdominal cramping, and anaphylactic shock.
  • Formaldehyde – Orthodontists regularly use formaldehyde in root canal therapy to sterilize and disinfect the canal. Formaldehyde is also found in many root canal sealers. This substance not only triggers asthma attacks in allergic individuals, but is also a known human carcinogen.
  • Local anesthesia – Anesthetic agents such as idocaine, novocaine, benzocaine, and procaine, used to induce numbness during dental procedures, can cause allergic reactions in certain people. Signs of being allergic to local anesthetics include blood pressure changes, hyperventilating, racing heart, hives, itching, and swelling at the application site.

Today, most dental practices are aware of the danger of dental allergies and offer hypoallergenic materials and treatment options for allergic individuals. For example, ceramic crowns may be used instead of metallic ones, and latex gloves can be replaced with synthetic rubber gloves. If you suspect you have a specific dental allergy, be sure to discuss it with your dentist so that alternative arrangements can be made.

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