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                                                        DR. DAN PETERSON

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Latex Is Symptoms of Latex Allergy
What is Latex Allergy How Does the Allergy Develop
Alternatives to Latex

As many as 6 % of Americans are latex-sensitive; 
among health workers the figure jumps to nearly 20%*

Latex is....

The processed plant product used in thousands of consumer and medical goods comes from a rubber tree found in Africa and southeast Asia and is valued for its strength, flexibility, tear resistance, elasticity and -- most critically for gloves

What is a latex allergy?

    Allergy to rubber latex is an increasingly serious medical problem.  Incidence of latex allergy is now about 25 % in health care workers and 2-6% of our population due to the increased use of latex to protect ourselves from HIV infections and other diseases, this is according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology .

Latex sensitivity develops in susceptible individuals (often those with another allergy or a family history of allergies) after repeated exposure. Those allergic to certain foods, especially avocado, potato, banana, tomato, chestnuts, kiwi and papaya, may also be especially vulnerable.

The latest anthrax threats will increase the population being exposed to latex because anthrax spores can't pass through latex, says immunologist Robert Hamilton, vice chair for the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology's latex allergy committee, "because they are too big to penetrate the latex.**

     Latex allergy can be a significant problem because:


Almost everyone is exposed to latex.


Some people are allergic to latex and don't know it.


The more an unsuspecting allergic person is exposed to latex the more serious the reaction can become.


People who already have allergies are more susceptible to additional allergies.

We use heavy utility gloves while we clean instruments

What are the symptoms of latex allergy?




Low blood pressure


Respiratory arrest


Dry skin










Anaphylactic shock

     Symptoms can begin within minutes after contact with the protein allergens in latex, usually 48-72 hours after the initial exposure.  Individual with spina bifida; multiple surgeries; allergy prone; health care workers or anyone who comes into regular continuous contact with latex are at a higher risk of developing an allergy to latex.

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Regular and frequent use of latex gloves can lead to latex allergy

How does the allergy develop?

     Continuous inhalation of the powder which lines latex gloves and become airborne during glove removal.  This powder contains latex protein (allergen) and can remain suspended in the air for up to 12 hours!

     Continuous exposure to such an environment can cause an asthma-like reaction where the individual has difficulty in breathing, coughing spell, itchy throat, chest pains, tiredness, sneezing, tearing, and runny nose.  These symptoms are common to many other disease and often are misdiagnosed.

Latex allergies can affect anyone.

Septodont now has local anesthetic with latex free plungers-Patterson.

Alternatives to Latex

Nitrile provides the same microbe protection without the  side effects. And unlike latex, nitrile does not break down when exposed to sweat or hand cream.

What should I do if I am allergic to latex?
Be sure to inform your dentist about your latex allergy as part of your complete medical history. This includes any drug allergies. If you have been diagnosed with latex allergy, inform your dentist before treatment and ask the office whether it has latex-safe products available for use during a dental procedure or surgery. Request that your appointment be scheduled as the first procedure of the day before latex proteins can build up in the air; this can lessen your exposure to latex allergens.

Take the following precautions:

bulletCarry an adrenaline kit (Ana-Kit or EpiPen) to treat possible severe allergic reactions.
bulletUse a medic alert bracelet that clearly states your allergy. You may also want to carry a letter of explanation from your allergist.
bulletCarry a pair of latex-free gloves (gloves made of nitrile or vinyl are alternatives to latex) in case of an unscheduled emergency visit with a dentist.
bulletAvoid contact with latex products as much as you can.
bulletTake steps to find out which products around you contain latex.
bulletFind other products that you can use that do not contain latex.
bulletIf you are not aware that you have the allergy (which many people are not) and you suffer symptoms following a dental procedure or from contact with any latex products, consult an allergist immediately and inform your dentist.

Latex Allergies Food Cross-Reactions 

Latex allergies often trigger food cross-reactions because certain plant products ; including bananas, avocados, kiwis, plums, peaches, cherries, apricots, figs, papayas, tomatoes, potatoes, and chestnuts contain the same allergy-producing proteins as NRL. Latex-sensitive individuals should avoid the aforementioned fruits, vegetables, and nuts, as well as genetically engineered fruits and vegetables that contain the same DNA markers as latex.

Latex Allergy Links
Latex Allergy Dental Articles

 Academy of General Dentistry, AGD Impact, pg 23 January 2004
*American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
**Date: Mon, 17 Dec 2001 19:36:49 -0000  Latex Allergies: Taking Off the Gloves

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February 06, 2008

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