Summer is here…and that usually means that the spring allergies are starting to die down but here in Knoxville, the pollens are still aggravating a lot of folks out there. Seasonal allergies affect millions of people every year, but did you know that they can also affect oral health?
While there are plenty of allergens that can make us sneeze year round, such as dust and pet dander, seasonal allergies typically flare up twice a year: in the spring and the fall. But here in Knoxville the pollens get trapped and that means nearly year round congestion, an itchy nose, mouth, eyes, or throat, puffy eyes, sneezing, and coughing for people with allergies.
The reason our allergies act up the most during spring and fall is that trees and grass pollinate throughout the spring, while ragweed pollinates in the fall. Mold will also send out spores around the same time. Allergic reactions, including seasonal allergies, are the result of our immune systems going into overdrivein response to these allergens.
While allergies can result in tingly or swollen lips, mouth, or tongue and irritated gums, the most common way seasonal allergies can become a problem for oral health is dry mouth. Whenever we have congestion, we end up breathing through our mouths instead of our noses, which dries up our saliva. Antihistamines, while very helpful to keep your allergies under control, also cause dry mouth. Saliva is our number one defense against cavity-causing bacteria, so when your mouth is dry, you have a higher risk of developing tooth decay. Having dry mouth presents a serious threat to oral health, because saliva is the mouth’s first line of defense against gum disease and tooth decay.
Because many allergens are airborne, avoiding allergic reactions can be difficult, but there are a few things you can do. It’s best to stay indoors on extra windy days when the most allergens are in the air. You should also wear a pollen mask while doing yard work, and avoid using window fans that could blow pollen and spores into your house. Change your clothes and wash your face and hands after coming in from outside to keep the pollens around your person and in your home to a minimum.
If you do end up having an allergy attack, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and chew sugar-free gum to stimulate your salivary glands, and keep up your daily brushing and flossing routine. Make sure you also take the anti-allergy medications your doctor or allergist recommends to minimize your congestion.
If you’re experiencing dry mouth, whether as a side-effect of seasonal allergies or for any other reason, don’t hesitate to come see us! Your oral health is our top priority, and together we can come up with a plan to keep your mouth healthy until the allergies end and beyond!
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.