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Nickel Allergy - Medical and Dental Considerations

 Nickel Allergy and Dental Work

  • Nickel allergy is rarely written down when filling out a patient history prior to seeing the doctor or dentist. However, many medical and dental items do contain nickel. 
  • Nickel has been used in dentistry for more than eighty years in both restorative work (fillings, crowns, bridges, partial dentures) and orthodontic appliances (wires, bands, brackets, etc.). 
  • Nickel is used in dentistry for several reasons. First, it makes a soft metal like gold harder. Secondly, combined with titanium, nickel becomes a shape-memory alloy used in orthodontics. Finally, nickel is inexpensive. 
  • The amount of nickel used in dental items can range from a few percent to over 50%. 
    Image of girl with braces. Brace can contain nickel especially in the wires.
  • To limit exposure to nickel, inform your health care provider that you are nickel allergic. 
  • If at all possible, confirm with the manufacturer of any dental appliances that the item is free of nickel prior to usage. 
  • Reactions to orthodontics are rare, but if you are concerned about possible reactions from the use of nickel containing dental materials, contact your dentist or orthodontist.  

 Nickel Allergy and Medical Considerations

  • Nickel is also used in a variety of surgical implant materials and biomedical devices. Stents may use a combination of nickel-titanium for shape-memory properties. Surgical staples made from stainless steel contain nickel that provides strength, bendability without breaking, and resistance to corrosion. 
  • Nickel can also be found in surgical implants (knees, hips, etc.) and OB/GYN devices like some IUD's and sterilization devices. 
Image of doctors looking at an xray.  Tell your doctor if you have nickel allergy BEFORE something is implanted such as a heart stint or IUD.

  • Complications from nickel containing devices are rare. 
  • To limit exposure to nickel, inform your health care provider that you are nickel allergic. 
  • If at all possible, confirm with the manufacturer of any device to be implanted that the item is free of nickel prior to usage. 
  • If you are concerned about possible reactions from the use of nickel-containing devices, contact your physician or specialist.

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