During a dental visit, your body may be exposed to several substances that are known to cause allergic reactions.
An allergic reaction can be triggered when you inhale, swallow, inject, or make contact with an allergen that causes a response from your immune system. Most allergic reactions, such as hay fever, are relatively mild but some reactions can be life threatening and cause problems breathing and swallowing.
Reactions caused by compounds from the dentist office usually begin with redness and irritation but they can also lead to welts, facial swelling, or swelling of the tongue, lips, and throat in severe cases.
It is important to be aware of any allergies you may have from dental products and to inform your dentist of them.
The following are the most common allergens found in the dentist office.
Latex is a natural rubber that is used in several dental products such as masks, gloves, prophy cups, and some syringes. The latex gloves are the most likely of these products to cause a reaction because they make direct contact with the skin and mouth and some may even contain and shed powder particles. Prolonged exposure can cause minor to severe allergic reactions and most dentist offices have non latex gloves to accommodate patients who are sensitive to latex.
An allergic reaction to local anesthesia is quite rare but it can happen to some people. Usually, a reaction to local anesthetic is caused by a sensitivity to para-aminobenzoic acid which is a byproduct of the anesthetic. Certain preservatives that are added to local anesthetics have also been known to cause allergic reactions. Most patients who experience reactions from anesthetics are actually reacting to the effects of epinephrine which can cause rapid heartbeat and raise blood pressure.
Many dental products contain some form of metal that can be a concern to those with metal allergies. The most common metal allergy is caused by nickel alloys that are found in many everyday items and some 14K and 18K gold. Nickel is also found in stainless steel but the bond is so tight that it rarely affects even the most sensitive person. Dentists may use dental crowns with no nickel content and orthodontic braces made from ceramic for patients with nickel allergies.
Pine and mint are used in several dental products that can trigger an allergic reaction. Natural pine can be found in most fluoride varnishes to make them stick to the teeth and many dental products such as toothpaste are flavored with mint. The fluoride varnishes can cause an allergic reaction in patients who are sensitive to pine and people with mint allergies may react from products flavored with spearmint, peppermint, or cinnamon.
Acrylic monomer is found in temporary crowns and removable dentures. The acrylic is hardened and activated with a liquid that can cause severe allergic reactions to those that are sensitive.
Most of the time the symptoms of an allergic reaction occur after a dental visit which makes it important to tell your dentist about any symptoms afterwards or during your next appointment. You must also inform your dentist at the beginning of a visit if you do have a known allergy so that the proper materials will be used to avoid a reaction. With good communication and knowledge of the most common allergies from dental products, you can avoid dental allergy issues and maintain good oral health.