Invisalign: Yes, You Can Get Braces with a Metal Allergy

girl with braces for invisalign blog

If you’ve been holding off on getting braces due to a metal allergy, it’s time to find an Elgin Invisalign provider. It’s estimated that 17% of women and 3% of men struggle with nickel allergies, with children in general having reactions about 25% of the time and girls reacting to it more than 35% of the time. It tops the list of allergens and yet nickel still shows up in everything from jewelry to toys.

What’s a Nickel Allergy?

Believe it or not, people have known that nickel is a problem since the 1600s. Early miners thought they were digging up copper, but noticed many of them were having reactions to it. They dubbed the stuff “kupfernickel.” Kupfer referring to their belief that they had discovered copper, and nickel, meaning “goblin.” Indeed, those early miners had it so bad they thought goblins were causing their reactions because they were trying to protect the metal. That kind of puts it in perspective, doesn’t it?

Yet, today “goblins” are present in everything and reactions to “them” have been steadily growing over the years. Typically, the reaction is limited to the area the nickel comes into contact with, and the individual winds up with a rash or small blisters. This is referred to as “nickel dermatitis.” It’s not serious and the spots go away on their own, but they may itch like crazy or ooze, so people routinely treat the spots with over-the-counter medications. Of course, the only way to really manage a nickel allergy is to limit exposure to nickel, but that can be difficult to do.

Is Nickel in Braces?

In short, yes. If you have a nickel allergy, your likelihood to react to contact with it will vary based on the concentration of it in whatever you’re touching. In the UK, reduced nickel has actually been mandated in things like jewelry, and as such, people are having fewer and less severe reactions. Here in the US, you might notice that you’ll react to one pair of earrings, but not another, or you might not be able to keep coins in your pocket, and so on. In addition to this, sensitivities can appear at any age and the amount of nickel required to trigger a response can change too, which makes it particularly worrisome when you’re considering having metal cemented into your mouth for a long period of time.

All dental materials should come labelled or the dentist should be able to contact the manufacturer to find out what the nickel content is. Typically, it ranges from about 8-50% of any given alloy used in dentistry. And, yes, people do sometimes react to it. In some cases, it is the itchy feeling they get when they wear jewelry, but there’s one other big worry. It seems people with a nickel allergy who wear nickel-containing braces actually develop more periodontal problems than others do. Plaque and bacteria accumulate more, which results in more gum sensitivity and bleeding, but can develop into more serious complications as time goes by.

How Can I Get Braces if I Have a Nickel Allergy?

The good news is, you don’t need any metal in your mouth at all in order to straighten your teeth. Invisalign is a method which utilizes plastic aligners rather than the metal brackets and wires you’re accustomed to seeing. Rather than going in to have adjustments every week or two, you’ll simply swap out your aligners every couple weeks and gradually reshape your teeth. It’s worth noting that not all metal braces contain nickel, so those may still be an option if you have your heart set on them, but most people with concerns are more comfortable going metal-free.

Visit an Elgin Invisalign Provider

Although more severe cases may still require the use of metal brackets, the vast majority of orthodontic treatments can now be completed using Invisalign. If you’re worried about nickel reactions in yourself or your children, but still want to explore orthodontic options, book an appointment with Elgin dentist Dr. Steve Sirin by calling (877) 814-0977 or request an appointment online.

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