When you think of allergies, sneezing, watery eyes, and itchy skin might be the first symptoms that come to mind. However, have you ever stopped to consider the connection between your allergies and your dental health? It's a question many of us have overlooked, but the answer is surprising.
Allergies and Dental Health
Seasonal allergies are the body's heightened response to environmental triggers present during specific times of the year. This overreaction involves the immune system releasing chemicals, which can lead to symptoms like congestion and post-nasal drip, among other things. Common culprits behind these reactions are pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds.
At first glance, it might seem unlikely that something like seasonal allergies could influence the health of your teeth or gums. However, allergies can indirectly lead to a variety of oral health concerns. Let's explore this hidden connection in a little more detail.
Mouth Breathing and Dry Mouth
Many allergy sufferers find themselves breathing through their mouths due to nasal congestion. You may not even notice you are doing it since this may often happen at night while you sleep. This might seem harmless, but prolonged mouth breathing can result in dry mouth.
Without the regular flow of saliva to cleanse the mouth, bacteria thrive. These things can increase the risk of tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath.
Post-nasal drip, common among allergy sufferers, involves excess mucus accumulating at the back of the nose or throat, often leading to throat clearing, coughing, and soreness. This mucus, produced in response to allergens like pollen or dust, can indirectly impact dental health.
Mucus contains proteins that oral bacteria thrive on and also bacteria of its own. Over time, this (especially when combined with dry mouth) can irritate and inflame the gums, paving the way for gingivitis. Another unfortunate side effect of swollen or painful gums can be a reluctance to brush and floss thoroughly. And we all know this can lead to tooth decay and gum disease.
Medications and Oral Health
Antihistamines are a common go-to for many individuals to combat allergy symptoms. However, they can have the side effect of reducing saliva production, leading to dry mouth. Just as with mouth breathing, reduced saliva can pave the way for bacterial growth.
Sinus Pressure and Tooth Pain
When the sinuses become congested due to allergies, it can lead to pressure in the upper jaw. This pressure can sometimes cause discomfort or pain in the molars. While this doesn't directly harm the teeth, let's face it: tooth and jaw pain are uncomfortable and can be disruptive.
How to Protect Your Teeth During Allergy Season
Knowing that allergies can affect your teeth and gums, you can now take steps to protect your dental health. Here's what you can do:
- Stay Hydrated- Drinking plenty of water is at the top of the list. It helps in compensating for the reduced saliva flow and aids in rinsing away bacteria and food particles.
- Maintain Good Oral Hygiene- During allergy season, be even more diligent with brushing and flossing. This reduces the bacterial buildup that might occur due to dry mouth.
- Consider Using a Humidifier- A humidifier can help increase moisture in the air, especially during nights when mouth breathing is more likely. This can assist in reducing dry mouth.
- Consult with Your Dentist- If you're experiencing severe dry mouth or tooth pain that you believe might be linked to your allergies, it may be time to have a discussion with your dentist. We might recommend specific products or treatments to help alleviate the symptoms.
Are You Concerned About Allergies and Oral Health?
If you're an allergy sufferer and have concerns about your oral health, don't hesitate. Reach out to schedule a consultation with us. We're here to offer advice, answer your questions, and help your teeth and gums remain healthy throughout every season.