Although most people don’t love the idea of wearing braces, it doesn’t usually create any major problems. For some individuals, though, orthodontic treatment with braces is a bigger deal. Over time, some people develop sensitivity to nickel, a common metal found in jewelry, watches, and clothing. Unfortunately, nickel is a component in metal braces as well as in the wires and auxiliary pieces used during treatment.
Research indicates that more people have a reaction to nickel than to all other metals combined. This sensitivity occurs when the immune system responds to the foreign substance. More females than males exhibit problems with nickel, which may be attributed to other contact with nickel such as with watches, earrings, metal buttons, and even detergent. Symptoms may include a rash on the skin and lesions in the mouth.
One of the reasons for the increase in nickel sensitivity cases is the popularity of body piercing. The jewelry used for these piercings usually contains nickel. While the initial exposure to the nickel may not cause a reaction, full symptoms may develop with subsequent exposure.
If you or a loved one has sensitivity to nickel, talk with your orthodontist about other options. Often, stainless steel components, which are only about eight percent nickel, will work better than other metal appliances. Ceramic, plastic, gold-plated, and titanium brackets are other alternatives to consider as well as Invisalign. In some cases, a reaction may not develop until after treatment has started. Contact your orthodontist right away if you notice any signs of nickel sensitivity.