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Dental material allergies and oral soft tissue reactions


Dental materials can cause reactions to the oral mucosa and present to the general dental practitioner. These are often referred to as 'allergies' but are frequently lichenoid reactions. Most of these are related to dental amalgam restorations and can be remedied by replacing the restoration with another suitable material. Other metals, including gold, palladium, nickel and chrome, have also been reported to trigger mucosal changes. Less commonly, issues arise from other restorative materials, including denture acrylics, composites and glass polyalkenoates. Reactions are also reported due to endodontic and sealing materials. It is unclear what role skin 'patch' testing has in managing dental material allergies. This article aims to give the practitioner a clearer picture of dental material allergy issues and how they should be approached in primary dental practice.

Key points

  • Most reactions to dental materials occur due to amalgam restorations.

  • Reactions to denture materials will cause erythema of the denture-bearing area only.

  • Contact sensitivity (patch) testing has a limited role to play in identifying suitable restorative materials in an individual patient.

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Authors and Affiliations



William Harrison and Alexander Crighton contributed to the section on dental metals. Rosie Fletcher and Alexander Crighton contributed to the section on dental plastics and restorative materials. All authors contributed to the general article preparation and review, with Alexander Crighton as lead editor.

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Correspondence to Alexander Crighton.

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Fletcher, R., Harrison, W. & Crighton, A. Dental material allergies and oral soft tissue reactions. Br Dent J 232, 620–625 (2022).

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