If you suffer from seasonal allergies that leave you feeling stuffy and snuffly, you may think your problems are isolated to your nose and eyes. However, suffering from allergies (and treating them) can have some impacts on your dental health. If you are an allergy sufferer, here are three dental issues you should be aware of – and how to best deal with them.
Mouth breathing can lead to tooth decay.
When your nose is stuffy and you start breathing primarily through your mouth, your mouth dries out. Bacteria love a dry mouth, so they begin to proliferate, leading to an acceleration in tooth decay. If you're an allergy sufferer who often mouth breathes, follow these tips to avoid issues with decay:
- Find an allergy medication that works for you. If the one you're using now is not making it comfortable to breathe through your nose, talk to your doctor about trying a different one.
- Wear a nasal strip, which attaches to the outside of your nose to keep your nostrils open, when you go to bed at night.
- Use an antiseptic mouthwash several times a day to keep bacterial levels down.
Cough drops and throat drops expose your teeth to excess sugar.
If allergies leave your throat feeling scratchy, you may such on cough drops for relief. Most people think of cough drops as a "medicine" and thus don't consider that, like candy, they are high in sugar. Frequent cough drop use exposes your teeth to excess sugar, which can contribute to gum disease and tooth decay. Instead of relying on cough drops to soothe your throat, try gargling with a little salt water. You can also use sugar-free cough drops in moderation.
Some allergy medications dry your mouth out.
As mentioned above, dry mouth can contribute to tooth decay. Sometimes, that dryness is caused not by mouth breathing, but by your allergy medications. If your mouth feels dry, don't ignore this side effect. Talk to your doctor about switching medications. Alternatively, your dentist may be able to prescribe a gel or rinse that will increase your saliva production, allowing you to continue taking your allergy meds without the worry of dry mouth and tooth decay.
If you suffer from allergies, let your dentist know. He or she can then be especially on the lookout for issues related to your allergies, ensuring that they are caught and treated early on when they're still minor.