Allergies to dental materials are a common occurrence in the dental field. Alloys, rubber materials, polymers, and acrylates are the most common allergens. Nickel, cobalt, and amalgam alloys are especially prone to causing allergic reactions due to their frequent use in prosthetics and restorations. Latex, acrylates, and formaldehyde are the most common allergens for dental staff.
Polymethyl methacrylates and latex cause delayed hypersensitivity reactions, while sodium metabisulfite and nickel cause immediate reactions. As the number of patients with allergies to different materials has increased, dentists must be aware of documented allergies to known materials and take steps to avoid allergic reactions in the dental clinic. Latex allergies can range from mild itching to severe breathing difficulty and even anaphylaxis. To prevent this, dentists should use latex-free supplies when possible.
Metal allergies are also frequently reported in dentistry, with nickel allergy being the most common in women, ranging from 9-20%. Orthodontic patients with pierced ears have a 30% chance of being allergic to nickel, copper, and chromium. Latex allergies are one of the most common allergy problems seen in dental offices. People may have a negative response to proteins found in natural rubber latex.
Dental products such as gloves, protectors, instrument tips, and toothbrush grips often contain latex. Metal allergies are also common, with nickel alloys found in many everyday items and some 14- and 18-carat gold metals being the most frequent cause. Nickel is also found in stainless steel but rarely affects even the most sensitive people. Dentists can use nickel-free dental crowns and orthodontic appliances made of ceramic for patients with nickel allergies. The incidence of allergies to dental resins is low but methacrylates can induce a type IV (delayed) allergic hypersensitivity reaction.
Symptoms of latex allergies range from itching after dental surgery to anaphylactic shock, an allergic reaction so severe that it makes it difficult or impossible for a person to breathe. If a patient suspects they have an allergy to any dental product or material, they should confirm it with an allergy test performed by a dermatologist or allergist.