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An allergic reaction is caused by our immune systems being sensitive to a specific substance (also called an allergen). An allergic reaction occurs when you make contact with, inhale, swallow, or inject a substance into your body that causes your immune system to produce a reaction. Many allergic reactions are quite  mild, such as hay fever while others can cause breathing or swallowing to stop, and be life threatening. It is believed 1 in 5 people in America are susceptible to allergies of some kind. There are some common dental products that can cause allergic reactions that we should all be aware of.

Allergic Reaction During Dental Care

The dental office utilizes many types of compounds that could potentially be an allergic issue for you as a patient unless you communicate with your dentist. Some know of their allergies, while others may develop new ones at any time after exposure. The usual first response is itching, redness and irritation of tissue. A rash, or welts may occur, swelling of the face, tongue , lips and/or throat may occur in a severe reaction.  The main potential allergens in a dental office include:

Latex – This is a natural rubber harvested from trees and used in a wide range of products. Dental products that may have latex include masks, gloves, rubber dams, prophy cups, and some syringes.  The latex gloves are the usual culprit as they may contain powder particles which come into direct contact with the skin and mouth. Prolonged exposure to latex and the dust they shed can trigger an allergic reaction. This reaction can be minor to one that is more severe. Luckily, most dental offices are aware of this allergy today and have non latex gloves available for sensitive patients or have made the switch completely for the safety of all patients.

Local Anesthesia – A very rare reaction but it does happen to a small subset of the population. Dentists use a variety of local anesthetics based on the need and situtation of the patient. The main anesthetic used is lidocaine. A true allergy to local anesthetic is quite rare and it is usually due to a sensitivity to para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA). That term is quite a handful but it is simply a by product of the local anesthetic. There have also been cases of local anesthetic allergies to preservatives added to local anesthetics. Most patients who report an allergic reaction are not actually allergies, but instead a reaction to the effects of epinephrine. This reaction usually takes the form of a rapid heartbeat or an increase in blood pressure.

Metals – Metals are used throughout dentistry and can be a  concern for many. The most common form of metal allergy is a nickel allergy. Nickel alloys are used to create a lot of our everyday items, like buttons, buckles, zippers and kitchen ware. Nickel is also found in some 14K and 18K gold, and when you sweat, it draws the nickel out. Stainless steel has nickel in it, too, but it’s usually bound so tightly that it won’t affect even the most allergic person. But very allergic people can react to the nickel present in some food items, which include nuts, chocolate, tea, coffee, beer and apricots. Dentists can avoid nickel allergies by the use of dental crowns with no nickel content as well as using orthodontic brackets made of ceramic.

Pine, Mint– Most fluoride varnishes, not pastes, contain natural pine to make them stick to the teeth. Many dental items are flavored with mint oil to make them taste better. Many people are allergic to pine or mints such as spearmint, peppermint, and cinnamon.

-Acrylic Monomer– Acrylic is used in temporary crowns, and removable dentures. The liquid used to activate and harden the acrylic can cause severe allergic reactions to those susceptible.

Dental Allergies Conclusion

Allergies can develop over time, so it is important to tell your dentist if you notice any allergic type reactions during or after your dental appointment. Also, if you know before any dental treatment that you have any allergies you should tell your dentist so the proper materials can be used to avoid an allergic response. The main goal of any dental treatment is to take care of your dental health and not to compromise it. With a little knowledge and good communication, dental allergy issues can be addressed and avoided altogether. An allergist can test you to help determine what you should avoid to prevent an allergic response.

There are certain questions we all think about when we are told we need to wear orthodontic braces…..Will it hurt?….How will I be able to brush and floss?….Can I still eat my favorite foods?….How long will I have to wear them?

For millions of adults and children they might have a far different reaction……I have allergies to metals….Will I be able to have the orthodontic treatment without an allergic reaction?

Types Of Metal Used In Orthodontics

As many of us know, orthodontic braces are made up of brackets, wires, and bands. These orthodontic components are composed of various types of metal. This gives the orthodontic braces its inherent strength to do the job of moving your teeth into proper positioning over time. There are generally a few types of metal used in orthodontics and these can include:

Stainless Steel

Nickel Titanium

Full Titanium

Gold Plated Stainless Steel

What If I am allergic to certain metals? What choices will I have?

-Ceramic Braces – These are an excellent choice, not only for people with a nickel or metal allergy, but for people who are looking for a more esthetic orthodontic option. Ceramic braces are clear and are able to blend in with the teeth much more easily than traditional metal orthodontic braces. Ceramic braces allow for tooth movement without causing a reaction. Ceramic braces are not quite as strong as the traditional metal orthodontic braces so additional care is required as well as additional trips to the orthodontist for broken parts.

Gold Plated Braces – These are especially comforting to many with a nickel allergy as they add extra security against an allergic reaction. The gold is able to form a stable bond between the teeth and the brackets and will also blend very nicely against ones teeth to soften the esthetics. These have become more popular for many simply becuase they feel they look better than traditional options but they do come with added cost.

Titanium Braces – These appear very similar to the traditional stainless steel orthodontic braces. Titanium has an added advantage (besides being nickel free) that they are often considered to be more flexible than traditional stainless steel braces. This will allow them to be more flexible upon chewing and placing forces on them. This makes them a more durable option for many.

Plastic (Polycarbonate) Braces – The main advantages to these are that they are completely metal free and can be made to be practically invisible on the teeth. This is a great option for allergy sufferers but also for many adults who do not want a mouth full of metal. The main disadvantage of these is they tend to not be as strong as traditional braces so added care is needed as well as allowance for extra visits when things break.

Invisalign- This is a clear plastic removable appliance. It is changed periodically to slowly move teeth into position. It is nice because it is very cosmetic, and can be removed for photos.  The main negatives are, they are easy to lose, and movement is limited. Therefore, it takes more time to receive less results overall.

Other Potential Orthodontic Allergies

Other potential risks for allergies exist in the use of elastic ligatures (also called rubber bands) during orthodontic treatment. These rubber bands contain latex which might pose an issue for those with latex allergies. Luckily, in modern dentistry companies have developed latex free rubber bands using the same colors as the traditional ones.

Also, the metal used for a particular patient should be the same metal used throughout orthodontic treatment with no deviation. This ensures that there is no cross contamination as it would become quite difficult to pinpoint the exact issue when and if it arises further into treatment.

Orthodontic Allergies Conclusion

Communication is the key in dealing with any dental issue but especially for those with a history of allergies. If you suspect you have any type of allergy let the dentist know. It might be a good idea to get allergy tested prior to beginning orthodontic treatment if there is any doubt. Any allergy should not be taken lightly if there is any chance it could impact treatment. This will ensure a smooth transition and trouble free orthodontic treatment.