Oral Health News

May 2017

Asthma, allergies and oral health

When we think of allergies, we think of sneezing, runny or stuffy noses and itchy/watery eyes. Did you know that allergies can also affect your oral health? Here’s how:

Tooth pain - Sinus pressure can cause the top teeth to ache. This is because the roots of the top teeth are located very close to the maxillary sinuses. The sinus pressure can be felt as a general achiness or as your teeth being sensitive to hot and cold.

Dry mouth - When your nose is stuffed up, you are forced to breathe through your mouth, which will cause some dryness. The most common reason for dry mouth during allergy season is that it is a side effect of allergy medications, such as antihistamines.

Sore throat - A sore or itchy throat is caused by mucus draining from the nose down the back of the throat (postnasal drip). Drink plenty of water and choose sugar-free lozenges to soothe the throat while protecting against cavities.

Side effect Why do I care? What can I do?
Xerostomia (dry mouth) Saliva washes away food, neutralizes oral pH, and carries minerals that rebuild enamel and protect teeth from decay. Xerostomia can lead to bad breath and taste changes, plusmore serious problems like gum disease and cavities. Sip water frequently, chew sugar-free gum after meals/snacks and after using an inhaler. Use saliva substitutes (gels, rinses, lozenges) to keep the mouth moist and comfortable.
Dental caries (cavities) Caries is a process that can be stopped if caught early. If not stopped, a cavity will result. Caries is a chronic disease, which can lead to pain, poor nutrition, loss of sleep, behavior problems, and time away from school or work. Brush with fluoride toothpaste after every meal and floss each night. See the dentist at least every six months for a cleaning and exam. Complete all recommended treatment for cavities. Ask the dentist about dental sealants, fluoride varnish treatments, and at-home fluoride rinses or trays.
Gum disease (Gingivitis/Periodontitis) Gum disease can lead to tooth loss and is related to other conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, storke and pneumonia. Regular dental appointments and good oral hygiene, including daily flossing, will help reverse gingivitis and prevent bone loss. Antibacterial mouth rinses may help, but avoid those with alcohol as it will dry oral tissues.
Acid reflux Certain types of inhalers relax the muscles at the top of the esophagus. This can lead to acid reflux, which bathes the back teeth in acid and leads to erosion. Your doctor may recommend or prescribe a medication to help reduce acid reflux. Rinse frequently with water to neutralize pH. Use fluoride to help rebuild enamel.
Candidiasis (“thrush”) This is a yeast infection in the mouth. It looks like white patches on the inside of the cheeks, sides of the tongue or in the throat. It can cause pain, burning, or trouble swallowing. Rinse frequently with water. Talk to your doctor about treatment options.