Oral & Vision Health Blog

Be Sure to Tell your Dentist about Possible Latex Allergies

Latex allergies may be among the trickiest of all relatively common allergies. The symptoms are often similar to other allergies or the common cold, and you may get in contact with latex without even knowing it. That could be the case at the dentist, where contact with latex gloves may cause immediate skin and health problems. But don't let it get that far. The more you know about latex allergies, the more likely you’ll know if you’re affected.

What Causes Latex Allergies?

In general, the formula is simple: repeated contact with latex of any kind increases the possibility of developing a latex allergy. People who have had more than 10 surgeries are also at greater risk, as are those with other types of allergies. That's especially true for food allergies. If you're allergic to foods like apples, bananas, kiwi, raw potatoes and tomatoes, you're at a greater risk to be allergic to latex, and vice versa.

What are Common Symptoms?

The symptoms for a latex allergy can vary wildly, but most start with hives, and stuffy, itchy noses. More severe cases could bring out asthma-like symptoms, from wheezing to chest tightness and even difficulty breathing. The biggest potential reaction is anaphylactic shock, although that only happens in the most severe cases.

What Should You Do?

If you have shown any of these symptoms and can trace it back to previous exposure to latex, it may be time for you to get tested if you're allergic. But even before you know for sure, you should tell your provider about your possible latex allergy. Latex allergies are not just triggered by physical contact with the material. In some cases, even inhaling latex proteins that come from the powder in latex gloves can trigger a reaction.

Don't think you're a high maintenance patient if you tell your provider about an allergy that may not even be real. Medical facilities all have latex-safe areas to treat patients with potential allergies, and will switch to non-latex gloves if they may cause harm.

Don't take the risk. If you think you might be allergic to latex, be sure to let your medical provider know beforehand.

questions to ask the dentist