Going to the dentist can be nerve wracking for many people, and for plenty of reasons.
Now imagine if you had general dental anxiety on top of a latex allergy.
While allergies to nuts or dairy are common and regularly discussed, latex allergies are not as openly talked about. However, for those with a latex allergy, the fear of complications can lead to a seemingly rational avoidance of dental work altogether.
The trouble is, avoiding dental work can lead to more serious complications that will actually increase the need for more complex and comprehensive work.
If you suffer from a latex allergy or have a family member who does, come with us as we walk you through the problems associated with the allergy as well as solutions available to you to ensure that you’re not avoiding the dentist unnecessarily.
What is a latex allergy?
A latex allergy comes from the immune system’s response to certain proteins found in the natural rubber latex, meaning adverse reactions in your skin. If you have the allergy, your body mistakes the product as a foreign invade. This can cause reactions that include itchy skin, hives, or serious life-threatening issues like anaphylaxis.
The exact cause of a latex allergy is unknown, but repeated exposure to latex and rubber products is known to trigger symptoms.
Understanding and knowing the basics of a latex allergy will help you identify symptoms and guide you in seeking help. If you are diagnosed with a latex allergy, it’s recommended to look for products that are labeled specifically as “not made with natural rubber latex.” The FDA warns that there is no product that is truly latex free, since they have not found any product that does not contain at least some natural latex rubber proteins.
The next question, thus, is…
Can I go to the dentist with a latex allergy?
If you have a latex allergy, going to see your dentist can be anxiety inducing due to the completely standardized use of latex gloves. It’s important to call your dentist prior to any appointment so the office can follow their latex-free protocol. It’s also important to give them as much notice as possible to ensure all surfaces you will come into contact with are properly sanitized.
Since there is no cure for a latex allergy, the best option is prevention. It’s also a good idea to wear a medical alert bracelet to let others know about your allergy even if you aren’t able to.
And to answer the real question, there ARE latex–free gloves that you can carry with you for your own peace of mind, especially when attending a new dental practice.
Signs of a latex allergy
In most cases, latex allergy develops after many previous exposures to latex. Latex allergy symptoms may include hives, itching, stuffy or runny nose. It can cause asthma-like symptoms of wheezing, chest tightness and difficulty breathing. Symptoms begin within minutes after exposure to latex containing products. The most severe latex allergy can result in anaphylaxis, a serious allergic reaction involving breathing difficulty and/or a dangerous fall in blood pressure (leading to shock).
A simple solution
While a latex allergy can result in very real concerning side effects, it doesn’t mean you need to avoid visiting the dentist. If you suffer from a latex allergy, give our office a call today so we can create an allergy plan that ensures that you are safe and comfortable during your appointments. We commonly work with patients with lots of different allergies and would be happy to work with you to ensure optimal oral health.