23. October 2019
Braces and nickel allergy

Adolescents with braces have no increased risk of nickel sensitivity.

Comparison of girls with and without braces

A comparison of adolescent girls with fixed braces and girls who had never worn braces revealed that the incidence of nickel sensitivity was similar in both groups – 22 per cent among adolescents with braces, 20 per cent for those without (Johansson 2011).

Nickel sensitivity increased in both groups during the one-year study period, even though the European Nickel Directive has been in effect since 1994. Its aim is to limit the use of nickel in objects that come into direct and prolonged contact with the skin. “However, this regulation only applies within its jurisdiction”, said Bayerl. As a result, jewellery brought home from holidays in other countries often does not comply with the threshold limits.


Nickel-free braces only when necessary

“Braces are fine. Anyone who needs them should get them.” If there is a special need for nickel-free braces, they can also be made. She added that desensitisation in the case of an existing nickel allergy is not possible.



Nickel is the contact allergen with the highest sensitisation rate. In Germany, approximately one in every ten children is sensitised to nickel, girls more frequently than boys. It is difficult to avoid contact with the silver-white metal, which is found in coins, earrings, bracelets, trouser buttons – and braces.



Dt. Allergiekongress 2019. Kontaktallergien im Kindesalter (‘Contact allergies in childhood’). Vortrag von Christiane Bayerl, Direktorin der Klinik für Dermatologie und Allergologie, Helios Dr. Horst Schmidt Kliniken, Wiesbaden

Katarina Johansson. Nickel sensitization in orthodontically treated and non-treated female adolescents. Contact Dermatitis 2011;64:132-7


Text: mh/ktg