Allergies and Dentistry

    Ensure You Have an Allergy-Free Dental Visit

    Top Tips to Prevent Reactions

Ensure You Have an Allergy-Free Dental Visit

Itchy, swollen eyes, sneezing and a runny nose may sound like a case of seasonal allergies, but for many it's the reality faced each time they visit the dentist. According to the February 2008 issue of AGD Impact, the monthly newsmagazine of the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), allergic reactions that occur in the dental office may be caused by materials or medications such as latex or local anesthetic.

Masks, gloves and syringes in the dental office are usually made of latex, which is a natural rubber harvested from trees. Prolonged exposure to latex dust from powered gloves can trigger an allergic reaction. Also, a small number of patients may also experience allergic reactions to local anesthetics, which are used to numb the mouth and gums during certain dental procedures. The type of anesthesia required depends on the needs or preferences of the patient. Although allergic reactions to local anesthetics are rare, they do occur.

Allergies to latex and anesthesia should not prevent patients from visiting the dentist. It is still important to visit the dentist twice a year and there are ways to avoid experiencing an allergic reaction.

Top Tips to Prevent Reactions

Patients with a latex allergy should consider visiting the dentist first thing in the morning before latex and powdered gloves are used, recommends AGD spokesperson Maharukh Kravich, DDS, FAGD. "Particles of latex build up in the air as the day goes on."

For patients allergic to anesthetics, "It is usually because of the preservative in the anesthetic and in that case another anesthetic without the allergen should be used," explains Dr. Kravich.

Latex and local anesthetics are not the only materials that may cause an allergic reaction. Dr. Kravich notes that patients can have reactions to other chemicals and materials found in some dental materials or medications. Dr. Kravich recommends patients have a full examination by an allergist to determine if any allergies exist.

Patients can do their part by completing the medical history form in detail, outlining their allergies and past reactions to specific materials and drugs. In addition to alerting the dentist and dental staff of any allergies, patients who have concerns should also consider carrying an epinephrine kit (EpiPen) and use a medic alert bracelet that clearly states their allergy.

Common allergic reactions:

•  Itchy, swollen eyes
•  Runny nose
•  Sneezing
•  Asthma
•  Hives

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Original content of this reprinted with permission of the Academy of General Dentistry. © Copyright 2007-2009 by the Academy of General Dentistry. All rights reserved. Read the original article here.