• Does Hay Fever & Other Seasonal Allergies Affect Your Mouth?

    Hay fever is the common name for allergic rhinitis. Hay fever describes a reaction that occurs when your nose or eyes come in contact with allergens, which are substances to which you are sensitive. Allergens can include pollens, dust mites, moulds, animal dander, or other substances.

    In the UK, many of us suffer from seasonal allergies and hay fever – some estimates suggesting as many as 13 million Brits are affected.

    Some of the ways this impacts upon a person’s health are obvious – streaming eyes and nose, build-up of mucus and potential sinus pain. Overall, as those of us who suffer with hay fever know, it’s pretty miserable.

    What, though, of oral health? Does having hay fever or other seasonal allergies affect your mouth?

    Unsurprisingly, the fact that hay fever 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.

    The impact of allergies on your oral health may not be major but here at Puresmile Slough Dental & Implants in Farnham Common we think knowing how these allergies interact with your oral health is half the battle in counteracting the oral problems they can create.

    Why your teeth may hurt during hay fever season.

    One particularly noticeable problem can be toothache, which might not seem an obvious side effect of an allergy until you experience it. 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.

    The good news is the pain will usually subside as the allergy subsides, but with hay fever lasting for much of spring and summer, it’s still a long time to suffer discomfort. Other problems are related to a lack of saliva in the mouth, a common bi-product of hay fever and seasonal allergies. Saliva is essential to fight bacteria, helping to prevent cavities and decay; as soon as there’s 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 hay fever 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) which can lead to host of other 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. Good brushing and flossing habits are essential so make sure you book a regular dental hygiene appointment to keep your teeth and gums in tip-top condition.

    Bad breath is a further common unwelcome visitor that attaches itself to a dry mouth and lack of saliva.

    Fight back against allergies

    The good news is that there are ways to limit the impact that hay fever and allergies can have on your oral health.

    Taking antihistamines is an obvious start and one you are probably already aware of, however, while this might lessen some of the symptoms of hay fever – 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’s important to sip water throughout the day and follow other methods to keep the mouth moist and full of saliva.

    How to generate saliva

    Chewing sugar-free gum can help, while some people opt for what’s sometimes called “artificial saliva” – tablets, sprays or gums designed to increase the production of saliva and so prevent the dreaded dry mouth.

    You can buy 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.

    Hay fever and seasonal allergies should not cause major damage to your oral health, but it’s well worth knowing the impact they may have and what can be done to counteract any damage.

    If you do suffer from allergies it’s worth mentioning this to your Slough dentist and hygienist so they can help keep an eye on whether there’s a need for any extra action – for instance, someone who suffers from heavy hay fever might want an extra visit to our hygienist to remove any built up plaque at the end of the allergy season.

    For any questions or to book your dental hygiene appointment contact the practice today.