Seasonal allergies and dental health

Woman sneezing in grassy field
If you seem to get more toothaches when your allergies kick in, it’s not your imagination!

Seasonal allergies are very common! In fact, over 3 million people nationwide suffer from this type of allergic response. Whether due to the spores that are released from mold or pollen from the greenery, seasonal allergies come with a number of frustrating symptoms, including:

  • Itchy and watery eyes
  • Coughing
  • Runny nose
  • Severe congestion
  • Excess sneezing

If this list looks familiar to you, you are probably already aware that the culprit is allergies! It’s a common belief that seasonal allergies are just a respiratory issue, but in reality, they can have a profound impact on your oral health as well. The sudden increase in dental problems around the time that your allergies are flaring up is no coincidence! Here are three main ways that seasonal allergies can directly affect your oral health:

Dry Mouth

Due to mouth breathing and medications, dry mouth tops the list of typical symptoms during allergy season. Most people experience extreme congestion when they are suffering from an allergic reaction, and this inevitably leads to breathing through the mouth. Saliva is dried out when constant air is flowing through, and this can eventually result in many serious dental issues, including tooth decay and gum disease. Another reason why dry mouth and allergies are related is allergy medications that list dry mouth as a side-effect, including inhalers, decongestants, antihistamines, and more.

Toothaches

It might seem strange that allergies can cause a tooth ache, but the two are actually closely related. The largest sinus cavities are located directly above your upper molars, and when mucous builds up in those areas, the result can be very painful. Extreme sensitivity is not uncommon because the roots of your teeth are under constant pressure.

Bad Breath

Post-nasal drip (mucous draining from your sinus cavities into your throat) provides the ideal situation for bacteria to thrive. The build-up of bad bacteria will definitely lead to bad breath, but even worse, the area can become infected. If you find that brushing and swishing with mouthwash is not taking care of the smell, it is very likely that a throat infection caused by the bacteria has set in.

Once you become aware of the reasons why your dental health seems to be declining around the time of allergy season, you can learn how to correctly address the problems. Extra hydration is always a good idea if you are suffering from dry mouth and chewing sugar-free gum will help promote saliva production. Additionally, changing your allergy medication will help if one of the side-effects is dry mouth. If you are experiencing constant toothaches due to sinus issues, Benadryl or something similar can help to relieve congestion. Lastly, if the bacteria in your throat causing the bad breath has turned into an infection, an antibiotic will be necessary. You can always gargle saltwater to help kill the bacteria and use mouthwash, but postnasal drip often leads to infection so medication will probably be required to treat the problem at the source.

As always, if the problems persist despite your best efforts, a dentist exam is in order. It might be the case that your allergies are exacerbating an issue that was already present. Call us today to schedule an appointment, and we can partner with you throughout allergy season to make sure that your oral health is maintained.