Can you get allergic reactions to dental crowns? How can you tell if you are allergic to crowns? What can you do if you find out that you are allergic to crowns before and after the procedure? All these questions are very common and it’s important to give a straight answer.
Yes, you can get an allergic reaction to dental crowns. Dental crown restorations are among the most common restorative procedures in dentistry. They are mostly safe when done by an accredited dentist, but sometimes problems like an allergic reaction can occur. More specifically, you can get a reaction to the metal used to make the crowns or the materials used during the installation process.
In this article, you will learn symptoms of allergic reactions to dental crowns, what happens when you are allergic and how you can improve the condition.
What happens when you are allergic to a dental crown?
Allergic reactions have severe effects on the body. When you have allergies, the symptoms will not go away until you distance yourself from the cause of your allergies.
There could be several ways you can be allergic to your dental crowns. These arise from reactions to materials used in crowns. Some of these include:
- Bonding resins
- Metal crowns
Different materials can cause allergic reactions in people. For example, chemicals in oral rinses, or fluoride used during dental procedures might cause mild irritation. Resins could lead a patient to develop Type IV allergic reactions. They could cause gum irritation and redness.
Porcelain is a biocompatible material and is largely safe to use. However, they are often infused with metals to strengthen them (Porcelain Fused Metals – PFMs). Similarly, amalgam fillings contain a mixture of metals and mercury. Both of these cause allergic reactions due to the metal in them. If you experience more severe allergy symptoms after getting crowns, you might have an allergic reaction to these metals.
How can I tell if I have allergic reactions to dental crowns?
Studies show that amalgam or metal restorations cause the most adverse reactions in patients than other materials. American Dental Association records that symptoms of dental metal allergies are similar to contact dermatitis. If you get contact dermatitis when you encounter metals, you are sensitive to metals. Watch out for any skin redness or rashes when, for example, you wear metal jewelry or watches. It is best if you can find out any allergies to metals before getting your permanent crowns.
A good dentist will do a full medical history before any dental procedure. If you mention that you are sensitive to metals, your dentist can ask the dental lab to make your crowns accordingly.
If you did not know you were sensitive to metals beforehand, you can still track yourself after the procedure. There are a few signs you can watch out for after your dental crown procedure to see if you are allergic:
- Gingival hyperplasia: Gingival hyperplasia is severe gum inflammation. When you have an allergic reaction to metal, you will experience significant swelling on your gums.
- Itchy gums & mouth: Another symptom of metal allergy is itchy gums, sides, or the roof of your mouth.
- Dry mouth: Some patients who have metal allergies report constant dry mouth as a symptom.
- Burning mouth syndrome: Burning mouth syndrome can be a tell-tale sign of allergies to your crowns because of its severity.
- Numbness: Experiencing numbness on the sides of the tongue can be due to contact with the irritant crown.
- Ulcers: Oral ulcers near the area of your dental crown can also be a sign of allergies.
- Rashes: If you experience rashes on your skin, it is likely a sign of an allergy.
If you experience the symptoms listed above, you might have an allergic reaction to your dental crowns.
What do I do if I am allergic to the metal in crowns?
Most severe allergic reactions to dental crowns happen because of the metals used in dental crowns. If you are sensitive to metals in general, it is likely that you might have an allergic reaction to a dental crown containing irritant metals.
If you suspect you have an allergic reaction to your dental crowns because of the metals, contact your dentist immediately. You can ask for a certificate called the indentalloy certificate. The dental lab that made your dental crowns will carry this certificate. It details the full list of metal alloy compositions in your crowns. On this list, look out for Nickel (Ni), Chromium (Cr), and Beryllium (Be). These are base metals and are usually the cause of allergic reactions in people who have them.
In general, nickel sensitivity appears to be more common in women (4-10 times) than men. But chromium allergy is relatively rare (10% in males and 3% in females).
In orthodontic patients, those who have piercings appear to be more allergic to nickel, copper, and chromium (30%). However, only 3% of the patients who do not have any piercings show similar sensitivity. Therefore, the chance of developing a metal allergy might increase by the use of piercings.
In order to know for sure if you are allergic to nickel, you can run an allergy test. You can confirm this by a patch test using 5% nickel sulfate in petroleum jelly. If you have a sensitivity, nickel exposure will lead to systemic allergic contact dermatitis.
How do you treat allergic reactions to dental crowns?
So, you are certain that you have an allergic reaction to your dental crowns. What can you do now?
Don’t despair! There are still treatment options that modern dentistry can provide, which will help you overcome this problem. Because the dental crown procedure is irreversible, you will need to replace the crowns that you got. Luckily, there are types of crowns made from materials that will not trigger any allergies.
It is a common conception that some crowns require metals in them. For example, anterior teeth used to have to have metal-based crowns for their durability. Only these crowns were strong enough to perform the natural function of the original teeth. However, in modern dentistry, there are alternatives. Now, metal-free crowns like all-porcelain, all-ceramic, or zirconia crowns are just as strong as any metal crown. These materials are highly biocompatible. In fact, some sources cite that zirconia crowns are stronger than porcelain or metallic alloys.
This newer technology allows patients to have very durable crowns with non-allergenic materials. So if you are sensitive to metals or have allergic reactions to dental crowns, a metal-free crown is an excellent option for you.
You will need to do some research to find a dentist that is an expert in these newer technologies. Pay extra attention and ask if your dentist works with metal-free materials.
High noble metals
Metal-free crowns are not your only option for lesser allergenic risked crowns. You can customize your prosthodontic treatments in a different way by using high-noble metal alloys. While these are also metals, they are in will not cause allergic reactions.
High noble metals are:
High noble crowns comprise a mixture of these metals. Their classification as high noble crowns depends on the percentages of the materials in them.
A high noble crown consists of at least 60% of noble metals like gold, platinum, palladium, and silver. However, the crown should contain at least 40% gold to be a high noble crown.
When you develop allergic reactions to dental crowns, they are usually base metal alloys. These crowns do not contain gold or any other noble metals. They contain nickel, which is an irritant metal, as mentioned above.
As high noble crowns are more expensive than base metal crowns, your dentist might not mention them to you at first. Therefore, during your initial consultation with your dentist, ask them about high noble crowns.
To sum up allergic reactions to dental crowns, we will look at the symptoms of an allergic reaction and how you can eliminate them to be more comfortable in terms of wear.
Studies show that metals in dental alloys cause the most common allergic reactions in dental patients. These can be towards amalgams or metals in your crowns. These reactions are usually due to contact allergies and appear as delayed hypersensitivity reactions. Clinical symptoms can include burning, itchiness, inflammatory reaction, oral lesions, pain, and dryness of mucosa. If you want to be certain of the allergic reaction to metal like nickel, ask for the indentalloy certificate for your dentist. You can do allergy testing with a patch test to be certain.
Once you know you are allergic to the metal in your crowns for sure, you can make a dental treatment appointment with your dentist about other crown types.
Syed, Meena et al. “Allergic Reactions to Dental Materials-A Systematic Review.” Journal of clinical and diagnostic research: JCDR 9,10 (2015): ZE04-9. doi:10.7860/JCDR/2015/15640.6589
Allergies to dental materials. Vital4, 39 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1038/vital645