3 Allergies That Can Be Triggered at the Dentist

Going to the dentist for a routine teeth cleaning doesn’t rank very high on most people’s priority lists. Many of us delay going to the dentist for lots of reasons, including the need to have a painful procedure performed. Some people may have a legitimate excuse for not going to the dentist, though — they may experience an allergic reaction while there. From latex allergy to local anesthetic allergy to allergic reactions to bridges and fillings, some people may be getting more than they bargained for with a trip to the dentist. If you have an upcoming appointment with a dentist and suffer from any of the following allergies, make sure you have a discussion with your dentist prior to receiving treatment.

Mature woman having her teeth checked by dentist
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Latex Allergy

Latex is the major ingredient in most rubber products, and it is commonly found in items used in the healthcare industry, including in latex examination gloves. Some people may develop an allergy to latex, with exposure resulting in potentially serious reactions including hives, itching at the site of contact or all over, tightness of the throat, wheezing, difficulty in breathing, and anaphylaxis. Such an allergic reaction could conceivably occur when going to a dentist who wears latex examination gloves.

Local Anesthetic Allergy

Reactions to local anesthetics are relatively common, and they are most often not due to a true allergy. Symptoms occurring after the use of local anesthetics may also be caused by anxiety, hyperventilation, as well as side effects to epinephrine, which is frequently added to local anesthetics to make the numbing effect last longer.

Preservatives added to local anesthetics, like methylparaben, may also be implicated in reactions. Since going to the dentist may mean the need for fillings, the use of local anesthetics may trigger allergic reactions in susceptible individuals.

Contact Dermatitis to Dental Work

There are many chemicals and materials used in the dentist’s office that are capable of causing contact dermatitis around the mouth, as well as irritation of the gums.

Ingredients in dental amalgam (including mercury), bonding or porcelain can result in redness, swelling and irritation of the gums. Flavorings found in mouthwashes, toothpaste, and fluoride treatments could also cause irritation inside the mouth or a rash on the skin around the lips. Lastly, dental dams containing latex and other rubber compounds can result in contact dermatitis around the mouth. A number of potential contact allergens are present at the dentist's office — exposure to these may result in reactions around the mouth, on the lips, or inside the mouth.

4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Kumar RP. Latex allergy in clinical practice. Indian J Dermatol. 2012;57(1):66-70. doi:10.4103/0019-5154.92686

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Additional Reading

By Daniel More, MD
Daniel More, MD, is a board-certified allergist and clinical immunologist. He is an assistant clinical professor at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine and currently practices at Central Coast Allergy and Asthma in Salinas, California.