If you suffer from seasonal allergies, we know the struggle is real. This is the time of year that many people are hit with ragweed allergy symptoms. While you may think your allergies are only affecting your ability to breathe clearly, they may also impact your oral health. It is important that you recognize the ways in which your chronic or seasonal allergies are compromising your dental health so that you can correct issues in a timely manner.
Allergies can create inflammation within the lining of the sinuses, which in turn puts pressure against the nerves of the upper molars. This can result in a sinus-related toothache. In fact, many patients are unable to distinguish a sinus toothache from tooth pain that could be related to an infection, cavity or abscess. If your tooth pain increases when you bend down or if you also have tenderness in your cheek area, you are likely dealing with sinus pressure. However, if you are in doubt, always ask your dentist to evaluate it!
When sinus congestion makes it difficult to breathe through your nose, your mouth does all the breathing. This exposes the soft tissues of your gums to a drier environment than normal, which often leads to swollen, red or even bleeding gums in severe cases. If the mouth is dry, the gums are more likely to harbor plaque-bacteria, which triggers an inflammatory response from the body. Gum disease becomes a real concern if you consistently have a dry mouth due to allergies.
Not only does mouth breathing contribute to a dry oral environment, but many antihistamine medications also decrease saliva production. Since we need saliva to rinse away sugars and harmful bacteria as well as neutralize acids in the mouth, a low saliva production becomes a threat for dental problems such as decay.
Last but certainly not least, allergy sufferers are at high risk for halitosis, or bad breath. This is due to a dry mouth (greater amount of oral bacteria) as well as the foul odors of post-nasal drip and throat inflammation.
What You Can Do?
First and foremost, it is important that you get proper treatment for your allergies. Treating the root of your dental problems is always best. However, if your allergies persist despite medication or other treatment (and they often do), it is critical that you stay on top of your oral health. Do your part in brushing twice a day and flossing daily. See your dentist every six months to ensure gum disease and decay get detected and treated at their earliest stages. Your dentist may also prescribe a special oral rinse to combat dry mouth, which can combat a lot of the dental issues related to allergies. At the office of Dr. Wayne Suway, we can help you take care of your smile despite your struggles with seasonal allergies!