Risk level

Sweets aren't the worst thing …

A trip to the dentist might not seem that appealing. The mere thought of having a cavity filled or tooth extracted means that many are reluctant to go. What most people don't realise is that a trip to the dentist can also be tough on the dentist, although this may be small comfort once you're in the chair …

What are the risks?

A dentist comes into contact with a wide range of materials that can cause allergies. In particular, these include various types of plastic used to fill cavities and build crowns. It doesn't help that dentists also come into contact with water, soap and saliva. Both irritant and allergic contact eczema can occur. The skin becomes dry, red and flaky with cracks and blisters that itch. Some of the instruments and tools used by a dentist release nickel, which can lead to eczema.

Prevention and avoidance

Of course, not all dentists get eczema, and there are ways of reducing the risk. The most important, and maybe easiest, is to protect the skin by rubbing in a moisturising cream several times a day. Due to the risk of infection, dentists often wear gloves. Unfortunately the gloves can irritate the skin, and this can lead to eczema.

Choosing products that are designed to reduce drips and spills is another good way of avoiding unnecessary skin contact with potential allergens.

If you suffer from eczema or did so when you were little (atopic eczema), you should find out more about the risks before choosing a career as a dentist.

Want to know more?

If you have any questions or want to know more about allergy and eczema when working as a dentist, get in touch with your school nurse or careers adviser.