Are you itchy, scratchy and bursting with mucus?
Welcome to allergy season in Seattle. And while Seattle is a great place to call home, it can be a tough place to live if you suffer from seasonal allergies. Allergy season around here runs 8 months out of the year – from February through September.
As the weather gets warmer, more pollen from trees, grasses and weeds are coming out. And May is the month when all these pollens unite to create a perfect storm to attack your immune system, so it’s safe to say that the sneezing season is upon us!
So, what do your itchy eyes, stuffed up nose, and other allergy symptoms have to do with your oral health? Plenty. Seasonal allergies can actually impact the health of your teeth and gums.
Three Ways Seasonal Allergies Can Affect Your Oral Health
If you happen to suffer from seasonal allergies, please be mindful of the following, as you sneeze your way through the season:
Tooth Pain – Sinus pain is a common symptom this time of year, as your immune system fights off the pollen. Inflammation from allergies can cause mucus to build up, causing congestion. And stuffy sinuses may lead to facial and tooth pain. As the pressure builds in the maxillary sinuses, the largest sinuses in your face above your mouth, this pressure can push down on the roots of your upper molars. This may cause pain when you eat, or sensitivity in your teeth to hot and cold foods. It may also cause pain when you shift from one position into another, lying down, standing up, etc. Taking an antihistamine may help lower the inflammation and provide relief. If it does, the pain is most likely related to your allergy, but if the pain continues, or takes place in another area than your upper molars, please let us know. This could be related to tooth decay.
Dry Mouth – During allergy season dry mouth is another nuisance that you have to live with. When your nose is stuffed up, you’re forced to breathe through your mouth, which can cause dry mouth, especially when you sleep. And if you need to take antihistamines to clear up your congestion, dry mouth is often a side effect. When your mouth is dry, you have less saliva. And that isn’t a good thing. Why? Because your saliva is your body’s unsung super-hero! You need your saliva to fight off tooth decay and flush food particles out of your mouth. If your saliva flow is diminished, and you have dry mouth, you’re more susceptible to cavities and gum disease. If you’re in for the long haul as an allergy sufferer, there are some things you can do to boost your saliva. Certain foods, like celery and carrots, can help promote saliva flow, as can chewing gum that contains Xylitol (a natural sweetener), and drinking lots of water. If you continue to experience dry mouth after the allergy season, please let us know, as we can diagnose it and offer remedies like CariFree CTx2 spray to help you keep your mouth moist – ask for it on your next visit or call us for details.
Bad Breath –Seasonal allergies also promote bad breath, so not only will you be stuffed up, and itchy, you might torment anyone around you when you breathe around them. Bad breath is caused by the same troublesome bacteria that promote plaque and gum disease. When your saliva flow is working properly, it helps to flush these bacteria out. When your allergies cause dry mouth or your mucus starts to build up and leads to postnasal drip, this allows the bacteria to flourish, unchecked, and stimulate bad breath. Gargling with warm salt water may provide some odor relief, as the salt’s antibacterial properties can help reduce the bacteria promoting the odor. This can also offer relief for a sore throat related to post-nasal drip. If your bad breath is due to a build-up of plaque on your teeth, our dentists may recommend a mouth wash or toothpaste, or, if it’s related to gum disease, a deep teeth cleaning.
When you’re in the throes of seasonal allergies it’s probably difficult to see any correlation between your allergy symptoms and your oral health. But your allergies can negatively affect your oral health, especially if you have to endure a long season of dry mouth. As you take on your allergies this season, please remember to stay hydrated, keep flossing and brushing, treat your allergies, and maintain your regular scheduled dental exams and teeth cleanings.
If you experience dry mouth because of your seasonal allergies, or any other reason, please don’t hesitate to call us at (206) 524-100 or schedule a visit with us. We can help you ease your symptoms and keep your teeth healthy through allergy season and throughout the year (those other few months around here)!