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How to Choose the Right Type of Medical Glove: Chloroprene vs Latex vs Vinyl vs Nitrile Gloves

How to Choose the Right Type of Medical Glove: Chloroprene vs Latex vs Vinyl vs Nitrile Gloves


Medical-grade gloves are an important aspect of infection control. With so many options available, choosing the best disposable gloves for your team can be difficult.

Safco Dental Supply is proud to offer a wide range of dental infection control products. Within this article, we will help you determine which type of medical glove is best for your practice.


Why Gloves are Important in a Dental Office

Gloves are an integral piece of personal protective equipment (PPE) which help support optimal infection control

Dental professionals come in close contact with bodily fluids and contaminated surfaces or objects each and every day. In the dental industry, PPE is absolutely crucial in protecting the health of both patient and provider alike. 

Medical gloves provide a protective barrier against disease transmission through blood, saliva, and other contaminated surfaces or objects.


Introducing 4 Types of Medical Gloves

Medical gloves are an important type of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). They protect healthcare professionals and prevent the spread of illness.

Each type of disposable glove provides a different level of protection, unique features, and different benefits.

We’ve reviewed each type of medical glove to help you choose the best option for your dental practice. In the following sections, we will explore the various specifications of the following types of dental gloves:

  • Latex
  • Vinyl
  • Chloroprene
  • Nitrile


About Latex Gloves

Latex is a natural rubber made from the milky white sap of the rubberwood tree or Hevea brasiliensis. Machines filter the latex from the sap transforming it through a process of blending, coagulation and drying.

Due to the nature of the natural rubber fibers in the end product, latex gloves are disposable and biodegradable.


Shop the Safco Dental Supply Selection of Latex Gloves


Pros and Cons of Latex Gloves

In the medical and dental community, latex gloves are often regarded as one of the top choices, ideal for even the most precise of surgeries or procedures. 


Consider the following benefits of latex gloves:


  • Luxurious and soft 
  • Optimal dexterity and tactile sensitivity
  • Disposable
  • Biodegradable
  • Highly durable and cost-effective


When considering the use of latex gloves for your dental practice, it is important to also weigh the potential cons.


Consider the following drawbacks of latex gloves: 


  • When compared to other types of gloves (like nitrile), latex does not provide the best barrier protection
  • Not exceptionally protective against chemicals
  • May cause allergic reactions for patients or providers with a latex allergy
  • Lacerations and/or holes may be hard to detect; double-gloving may be necessary in some cases
  • Shelf life of 3 years (shorter than other types of gloves)


About Nitrile Gloves

Nitrile gloves are another excellent option if you are looking to avoid natural latex and don’t want to skimp out on durability. 

Nitrile is BPA, latex, powder, phthalate, and vinyl free. It is a synthetic compound that features superior chemical and puncture resistance, and is becoming a top favorite within the medical and dental field. Let’s break down the pros and cons of nitrile gloves.


Shop the Safco Dental Supply Collection of Nitrile Gloves


Pros and Cons of Nitrile Gloves

Nitrile gloves boast a wide range of benefits and are quickly becoming a favorite in the dental field. 


Consider the following benefits of nitrile gloves:


  • Sleek and durable
  • Disposable
  • Protective against chemicals
  • More puncture-resistant than latex gloves
  • Lacerations and holes are easy to detect
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Waterproof
  • Textured fingertip finish for optimal grip
  • Beaded cuff to protect wrists and forearms
  • Shelf life of 5 years
  • Recyclable


Keeping the benefits of nitrile gloves in mind, consider the drawbacks, as well.


Consider the following drawbacks of nitrile gloves:


  • Can not be used on ketones or organic compounds that contain nitrogen
  • Not biodegradable
  • Higher price point than latex gloves
  • Less tactile than latex 
  • Not biodegradable


About Chloroprene

Chloroprene is a durable type of synthetic rubber that mimics the look and feel of natural latex. This type of medical glove should not trigger latex allergies.


Shop the Safco Dental Supply Collection of Chloroprene Gloves


Pros and Cons of Chloroprene Gloves

Chloroprene gloves are ideal for a wide range of clinical applications and are known to be the closest alternative to latex gloves – without the risk of possible allergic reactions to latex. Continue reading for a full breakdown of the pros and cons of dental chloroprene gloves.


Consider the following benefits of chloroprene gloves:

  • Superior comfort, dexterity, and tactile sensitivity comparable to that of latex gloves
  • Beaded cuff to protect wrists and forearms
  • Optimal elasticity
  • Puncture-resistant
  • Water resistant
  • Latex free, won’t trigger allergic reaction


Of course, it is important to consider the drawbacks that come along with the use of chloroprene gloves.


Consider the following drawbacks of chloroprene gloves:

  • Not as chemical-resistant as nitrile gloves
  • Not as puncture-resistant when compared with nitrile gloves
  • Not biodegradable
  • Higher price point when compared with other types of gloves


About Vinyl Gloves

Vinyl gloves are made from a synthetic material known as polyvinyl chloride (PVC). They are widely regarded as one of the most low-cost medical glove options. Let’s discuss the pros and cons of vinyl gloves in dentistry.


Pros and Cons of Vinyl Gloves

Consider the following benefits of vinyl gloves:

  • Lower price point than other types of gloves
  • Non allergenic
  • Beaded cuff to protect wrists and forearms
  • Disposable


Consider the following drawbacks of vinyl gloves:

  • Not biodegradable
  • Do not provide the dexterity or tactile sensitivity that is found with other types of gloves
  • Thin material is prone to lacerations or puncture holes


Latex vs Vinyl vs Chloroprene vs Nitrile Gloves: Key Differences

There are some notable differences between each type of medical glove; read on to learn more.


Material Composition

Each type of glove is made up of a different type of material. Each type of material has specific purposes and benefits. 


  • Latex: Latex is ideal for providers who are looking for a luxurious and comfortable fit. Latex also provides optimal tactile sensitivity and is highly durable. Because of their naturally-based composition, latex gloves are completely biodegradable. Keep in mind that latex allergies are common, and latex degrades with extensive exposure to certain chemicals.

  • Nitrile: Nitrile gloves are made from synthetic rubber and are quite durable. Nitrile gloves may not be a good option for you if you plan to work with oxidizing acids, organic compounds that contain nitrogen, or ketones. Keep in mind that nitrile gloves are not as tactile as latex or chloroprene gloves.

  • Vinyl: Vinyl gloves are made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC). However, it is important to keep in mind that certain vinyl gloves are thin and prone to punctures or lacerations. 
  • Chloroprene: Chloroprene gloves are composed of a synthetic rubber that is designed to mimic the texture and appearance of natural latex. This is an excellent option if you prefer latex gloves but wish to avoid possible allergic reactions.


Durability and Resilience

  • Latex: Latex gloves are known to be exceptionally durable, though it is important to keep in mind that they are not especially protective against chemicals.

  • Nitrile: Nitrile gloves are more resilient and durable than most other types of dental gloves. You may want to opt for nitrile gloves if you are working with sharp equipment or have an issue with puncture holes and/or lacerations in your gloves.

  • Vinyl: Vinyl gloves are not quite as durable as the other options, such as nitrile.

  • Chloroprene: Chloroprene gloves are designed to mimic latex gloves, meaning that they provide a decent amount of resilience and durability, but they tend to fall short when compared with nitrile gloves.


Allergy Considerations

As previously discussed, latex allergies are quite common. In order to avoid possible allergic reactions in both staff members and patients alike, it is best to opt for a non-allergenic option. Nitrile, vinyl, and chloroprene gloves are all excellent non-allergenic medical glove options.


Choosing the Right Glove

As you have learned here, there are many deciding factors in the process of choosing the right glove for your dental practice. 

Whatever your preferences or needs, Safco Dental Supply is here to provide you with top-tier products, such as:



Shop Safco Dental’s Selection of Infection Control Supplies for Your Practice


More Factors to Consider When Selecting Gloves

There are a few other things to consider when choosing the types of medical gloves that work best for you, such as:


  • Powdered vs Powder-Free Gloves: Powdered gloves are coated in cornstarch to allow for easy application and to prevent the gloves from sticking to each other. This type of disposable glove may be ideal if you run a busy practice, but it is important to keep in mind that powdered gloves may sometimes trigger allergies or sensitivities.


  • Shelf Life: The shelf life of medical gloves depends on the material and storage conditions. Following proper storage guidelines is the best way to extend the shelf life of your gloves.


  • Chlorinated vs Non-Chlorinated Gloves: If you want gloves that are easy to apply and won’t stick together but do not wish to use powdered options, you may opt for chlorinated gloves.


Chlorination is a process that hardens the gloves’ surface with hypochlorite or chlorine gas. This decreases surface friction, creating a glove that has a superior grip and is easy to put on and take off without the use of powder.


Explore Glove Options for Your Practice from Safco

The truth is that there is no specific type of glove that is better than the rest. The type of glove that best suits your dental practice depends on your needs.

When choosing disposable gloves for your practice, be sure to take a look at the product specifications; the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires any and all materials used to make the gloves to be clearly listed.


Looking for some assistance in choosing the best medical gloves? Feel free to contact us anytime and learn more about the dental industry and shop top supplies from the experts at Safco Dental.


Give us a call at 800.621.2178 to speak with one of our experts about different types of dental gloves.

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