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Latex Allergies in Dental Practice

Health and SafetyNatural rubber latex (NRL) allergies can impact on all dental healthcare workers as a result of the frequent use of latex gloves, and on patients because of contact with latex-gloved hands and local anaesthetic cartridges that possess rubber seals. Latex gloves also traditionally contained powder to facilitate donning. However this powder increases the risk of sensitisation and allergy as the latex proteins are carried and made airborne by the powder particles (aerosolisation).

To reduce the risks associated with aerosolisation and the increased risk of latex allergies, Health Protection Scotland [1] recommends that disposable latex gloves containing powder should not be used. The UK Medicines Information network (UKMi) provides information on which dental local anaesthetics are latex free [2].

Under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 [3], employers are legally bound to assess the risk that NRL poses to staff and patients.

Conduct a COSHH assessment for NRL (see COSHH Risk Assessment Mar 2012 template (Word)).

Put together a written policy (see Latex Policy Aug 2013 template (Word) that covers:

  • prevention of allergies among the dental team;
  • protection for sensitised staff;
  • management of patients with allergies.

Templates

Sources of Information

  1. Latex Allergy: Occupational aspects of management. Weekly Report 04.06.08. Health Protection Scotland (2008) (http://www.hps.scot.nhs.uk/search/default.aspx?search=latex+allergy&Go=GO)
  2. Which local dental anaesthetics are latex-free? Medicines Q&A 331.1. UK Medicines Information (2012) (www.sps.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/UKMi-QA-Dental-local-anaesthetics-and-natural-rubber-latex-update-Jan-2018. (PDF) )
  3. Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2002/2677/contents/made)