At our dental office in Columbia, we know that there are a lot of things that can affect oral health -- from genetics to tobacco use, to not brushing enough to eating too much sugar. But can your allergies actually be one of those things that puts you at increased risk for more cavities? The truth is, they can. Let’s see how….
Itchy, Stuffy, and Drippy
Most of us are well aware of the unpleasant symptoms of an allergy flare up. The itchy, watery eyes, the never-ending nasal drip, and the sinus stuffiness are all common side effects. And while they’re certainly annoying, they can also affect more than you may think. When your body comes in contact with an allergen, it responds by producing more mucus than normal. This mucus is gross, thick, slimy stuff that blocks airways and sinuses and makes it hard or impossible to breathe out of the nose. Instead, our bodies automatically adapt to breathe from the mouth. This mouth breathing is what’s concerning to your dentist in Columbia.
Why Mouth Breathing is Concerning
Mouth breathing is a bigger problem than it may initially appear. In fact, a study conducted by the Academy of General Dentistry reported that mouth breathing can affect oral health in a variety of ways. Too much mouth breathing as a child can cause a gummy smile or even problems with facial development. And the problems don’t go away in adults either. Mouth breathing has been linked to overall oral health issues, mostly because it causes dry mouth.
Dry Mouth & Oral Health
Dry mouth is an incredibly common complaint in many dental patients, and while it’s certainly uncomfortable, it’s also dangerous. Dry mouth essentially means that saliva production has decreased. And this is a problem. Saliva is responsible for rinsing away bacteria and neutralizing acids in the mouth that attack tooth enamel and lead to decay. Without saliva, teeth are constantly exposed. But that’s not all. Dry mouth can also cause chronic bad breath and is one of the causes of gum disease. Gum disease, if left untreated, can begin to affect the rest of the body and increases the risk of stroke, heart disease, and heart attacks.
The Problem with Allergy Medicine
To get relief from allergy symptoms, we usually turn to our trusted antihistamine. However, while this medicine may indeed ease itchy eyes or decongest sinuses, they may also make dry mouth worse. To help protect yourself and get the allergy relief you want, try:
Chewing sugar-free gum
Using lubricating mouthwash
Sleeping with a humidifier in your bedroom
Never stop any medication recommended by your doctor without first talking about it.
If you’re concerned that your allergies or allergy medication is causing dry mouth and putting your oral health at risk, we welcome you to call our Columbia dental office to schedule an appointment. We’re here to help keep our neighbors’ smiles healthy and can help you find relief.