Dental allergies are a common occurrence, with alloys being the most frequent allergens. Nickel, cobalt, and amalgam are the most common components of dental alloys used for prosthetics and restorations, and can cause reactions ranging from mild itching to severe respiratory distress and anaphylaxis. Latex allergies are also common, as latex is often found in standard exam gloves worn by dentists and hygienists. It is important to inform your dentist of any allergies before your appointment to ensure that latex-free supplies are available. Many people delay visiting the dentist due to fear of a painful procedure, but some may have a legitimate excuse due to an allergic reaction.
Metal allergies are frequently reported in dentistry, with nickel allergy in women ranging from 9-20%. This is one of the three main causes of allergic dermatitis, which can cause dryness, redness, itching, peeling, cracking, or blistering. In orthodontic patients with pierced ears, 30% are allergic to nickel, copper and chromium. The recent popularity of oral piercings has increased the risk of metal allergies in susceptible patients. Although rare, allergy to other metal alloys such as mercury, gold, platinum, palladium, silver and cobalt is also possible.
Healthcare workers and dental patients are at greater risk of exposure and developing allergies due to the widespread use of dental materials and products. Methacrylates can also induce a type IV (delayed) allergic hypersensitivity reaction. It is important for the dental team to be aware of the potential for numerous dental materials and products to cause mild to severe allergic reactions both intraorally and in unrelated parts of the body. By remaining vigilant and informed about potential allergies, healthcare workers and patients can take steps to reduce their risk.