Latex Hypersensitivity: A Closer Look at Considerations for Dentistry

May 1, 2009
Over the past several decades, latex hypersensitivity has become an increasingly common phenomenon in the dental setting. Exposure to latex via direct skin contact or inhalation of airborne allergens from powdered gloves poses the risk of sensitizing both clinicians and their patients. Adverse reactions to latex range from mild irritant contact dermatitis to potentially life-threatening hypersensitivity. The prevalence of these reactions is higher among medical and dental practitioners, those with prior allergies, patients with a history of multiple surgeries and those with spina bifida. The risk of developing latex hypersensitivity increases with prolonged and repeated exposure. The incidence of latex allergy may be reduced through such simple measures as using latex alternatives and powder-free, low-protein gloves. For patients with confirmed latex allergy or those at risk of hypersensitivity, it is critical for dental personnel to be familiar with the range of possibilities for latex exposure and to employ appropriate preventive procedures.

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