Spring Allergies and Your Smile

After what seems like 11 months of rain, Northwesterners are eager for sun and spring– we can’t wait to get out and hike, or dig in our gardens again. But there’s a very common side effect to spring– one that your dentist in Newberg OR is on the lookout for: seasonal allergies.

In fertile Oregon, with its grass seed, flowers, and various flora, seasonal allergies can be as abundant as our farmer’s markets, and they are figuratively and literally a huge headache. Most people associate seasonal allergies with runny nose and itchy eyes, but there are significant dental impacts as well.

Dry or drippy

The most obvious oral health impact of allergies is probably sore throat. Scratchy throats, coughing and hoarseness abound during the allergy season and are commonly caused by one or all of the following factors:

  • Post-nasal drip. This irritates the sensitive mucosa of the throat, causing sharp, biting pain when swallowing. Patients report that post-nasal drip is often the worst at night when then their body is horizontal and less able to “drain.”
  • Dry mouth. This is an important one, so we’ll mention it again in a minute, but in terms of oropharyngeal health, dry mouth means that less fluid is moistening and soothing the mucosa of your throat. The outcome of this is a dry, itchy, or scratchy feeling in the throat.
  • Inflammation. Seasonal allergies create an inflammatory response in the body, and the throat is no exception. As your body reacts to the pollen antigens in the air, your throat may swell slightly or become red and sore. It’s a natural part of the inflammation process, as well as an unfortunate one.

Congestion and your teeth

Here’s one we see a lot. Allergies cause congestion, and while it’s not taking place in your mouth, congestion can still affect your teeth.

Congestion takes place in your sinuses as your body launches an immune response to allergens. There are several sinuses in the face, and the maxillary sinuses are– appropriately– above your upper molars (located on your maxilla). When they become congested, these sinuses can press on the nerves of your teeth, causing temperature sensitivity, dull aching, or even sharp pain.

If you’re experiencing sinus-related tooth pain, an antihistamine frequently works to alleviate symptoms. If pain continues, don’t hesitate to contact your dentist in Newberg OR!

Dry mouth blues

As mentioned, dry mouth is a significant side effect of seasonal allergies– and it causes more than a sore throat. In fact, dry mouth can create many dental health problems, which is why we take it so seriously.

There are several factors when it comes to dry mouth, but by far the most common cause is medication. Most people take some form of pharmaceutical to combat allergy symptoms, and frequently one side effect is lowered saliva production.

Why is this bad? Saliva protects the mouth in many ways: by washing it free of food particles, killing bacteria, and by carrying the minerals necessary for repairing damaged dental enamel. Lack of saliva can cause gum disease, cavities, and halitosis.

If you notice dry mouth occurring in the spring allergy season, it may be a good idea to schedule an extra appointment with your dentist in Newberg OR. We can speak with you about alternative medication and monitor the health of your mouth to ensure that no unprecedented problems occur.

Keep calm and carry on

The good news about allergies is that they don’t last forever. Most people report the worst allergy symptoms to last between 2-4 weeks, leaving you to enjoy the rest of our beautiful Oregon weather.

We’re here to get you through allergy season with an unfaltering smile. Call us to schedule your next appointment!

Photo Credit: Danny Perez Photography via Compfight cc

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