Dentistry and Allergies: Part Three – Sulfa’s and Sulfites

drug allergy warning

Sulfa and Sulfite drugs are quite different from one another, but yet they both play a role in dentistry. Allergies to both of them are also fairly common.

Sulfa (Sulfonamides)
As mentioned above, allergies to Sulfa drugs are quite common … 3% of the population have ‘sensitivities’ to them. Because of this, doctors need to be quite cautious when prescribing them.

They were first used to treat bacterial infections in the 1930’s. They are still prescribed as antibiotics in dentistry and other areas and also found in some medications I.e., diuretics and anticonvulsants.

People confuse the Sulfa’s with the Sulfites; yet they are chemically un-related to one another.

Sulfites are found naturally in most wines. They are also used as a preservative in other types of food. Sulfites are a common food allergen. They rank 9th behind milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish and shell fish.

One percent of people are allergic to Sulfites.

As mentioned in the previous blog, Sulfites (Metabisulfite and Sodium bisulfites) are preservatives which prevent dental local anaesthetic from getting brown. The ‘browning’ will decrease the effectiveness of the local anaesthetic. Sulfites also act as a preservative by keeping the epinephrine fresh.

In the next blog, we will wrap up our series on common dental allergies. We will look at two types of medication that are used to deal with infections and pain in dentistry respectively, Penicillin and Codeine…until then.

Dr. F. Keshavarz Dentistry,

Your Local Brampton Dentist


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