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 news magazine 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. There are ways to have an allergy-free dental visit!
What Is Latex ?
Latex is a natural rubber harvested from trees and can be found in more than 40,000 consumer products, from household items to toys. Examples of these items include baby-bottle nipples, teething rings and pacifiers, balloons, some bandages, condoms, diaphragms, elastics in clothing, erasers, hoses, rubber bands and stretch textiles.
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.
What is an Allergic Reaction?
Allergic reactions are sensitivities to a specific substance, called an allergen, that makes contact with the skin, or is inhaled into the lungs, swallowed, or injected. Some allergic reactions are mild, while others can be severe and life-threatening. Allergic reactions often occur more frequently in people with a family history of allergies. Substances that don’t bother some people (including certain medications) can trigger allergic reactions in others.
Talk to Your Dentist
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. Be sure to talk to your dentist and their staff to ensure the proper steps are taken to avoid allergic reactions!
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