In the UK, a large proportion of the population suffer from seasonal allergies and hayfever – some estimates suggesting as many as 13 million Brits are affected.
Overall, as those of us who suffer with hayfever know, it is pretty miserable.
What, though, of oral health? Does having hay fever or other seasonal allergies affect your mouth?
Unsurprisingly, the fact that hayfever and similar allergies can make you feel so awful around the nose and mouth is a sign that your oral health might be adversely affected.
We are not necessarily talking major damage, but there is still an impact. Knowing how these allergies interact with your oral health is half the battle in counteracting the oral problems they can create.
Why Do My Teeth Hurt When My Allergies Act Up?
This feeling of achy teeth is the result of a build-up of mucus filling up hollow spaces in the sinuses and ultimately placing pressure on tooth roots which can lead to considerable discomfort.
A Pain In The Mouth
Other problems are related to a lack of saliva in the mouth, a common bi-product of hayfever and seasonal allergies.
Saliva is essential to fight bacteria, helping to prevent cavities and decay; as soon as there is a lack of saliva conditions in the mouth change to be far more favourable to the rapid production of bad bacteria.
Why do these allergies lead to a reduction in saliva? One key reason is that hayfever leads to an increased prevalence of mouth breathing, the nose being too blocked for easy breathing. Mouth breathing, especially overnight, leads to a dry mouth (xerostomia) and from there can be an onset of a whole range of related problems.
A lack of saliva and the resultant likely increase in bacteria makes cavities and decay more likely. There may be an increased chance of gum problems – both gingivitis and the more serious periodontitis – if the problem is not rectified or monitored (don’t neglect those good brushing and flossing habits!).
Bad breath is a further common unwelcome visitor that attaches itself to a dry mouth and lack of saliva.
How To Fight Back Against Allergies
Taking antihistamines is an obvious start and one you are probably already aware of, however, while this might lessen some of the symptoms of hayfever – reducing the mucus build-up for example – it exaggerates others.
Antihistamines, similarly to some other medicines, have a tendency to reduce saliva, exaggerating any dry mouth issues.
To counter this, it is important to sip water throughout the day and follow other methods to keep the mouth moist and full of saliva.
Chewing sugar-free gum can help, while some people opt for what is sometimes called “artificial saliva” – tablets, sprays or gums designed to increase the production of saliva and so prevent the dreaded dry mouth.
We stock Xylimelts which are fully-dissolving oral adhering discs with the active ingredients xylitol and cellulose gum which are slowly released in the mouth to help stimulate saliva flow (see here for more).
Hayfever and seasonal allergies should not cause major damage to your oral health, but it is well worth knowing the impact they may have and what can be done to counteract any damage.
If you do suffer from allergies it is well worth mentioning this to your dentist and hygienist so they can help keep an eye on whether there is a need for any extra action – for instance, someone who suffers from heavy hayfever might want an extra visit to a hygienist to remove any built up plaque at the end of the allergy season.
Please contact us today if you want advice or help with your dental health