Imagine this scenario: you go to the dentist to have a cavity filled, and an hour after the procedure you have a runny nose, scratchy throat, and your arms are breaking out in blotchy, red hives. In other words, you’re in worse shape after the visit to the dentist than you were before you walked in to have the cavity fixed. If you experience any of these types of symptoms or side effects, chances are you have a latex allergy.
What is a latex allergy?
A latex allergy is a hypersensitivity to latex proteins. If you have this allergy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that you avoid direct contact with any materials that contain latex. While latex gloves are known to cause allergic reactions in people with a latex allergy, certain metals, plastics, and other materials used in dental care can also cause an adverse response.
A runny nose and itchy eyes are common allergic reactions to latex. However, Dr. Michelle Slezewski and Dr. Paul Engibous and our team at Pediatric Dental Associates want you to know it can also trigger more severe symptoms, including asthma, wheezing, and cardiovascular and gastrointestinal ailments.
A latex-safe dental environment
Many dental offices screen patients for a latex allergy. This is only beneficial, however, if you’re already aware you have a latex allergy. The best thing you can do to ease your allergies is to find a dentist who has a latex-safe environment. A latex-safe dental environment observes the following protocols:
- All patients are screened for a latex allergy.
- No personnel use latex gloves.
- All latex products are removed from the patient’s vicinity, including rubber dams and elastics.
- Work areas contaminated with latex powder are cleaned frequently.
- Signs are posted to communicate all latex allergy procedures in case of an emergency.
If a latex allergy is part of your medical history, then it’s in your best interest to find a latex-free dental environment. To learn more about latex-free dentistry, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Michelle Slezewski and Dr. Paul Engibous, please give us a call at our convenient Anchorage, AK office!