Seasonal Allergies and Oral Health

Aeroallergens exist indoors and outdoors, and spring is ripe with pollen and allergy-inducing fungi. Airborne spores and other fungal microorganisms may originate in fields, forests, agricultural crops, flowers, or grass. Because they are light, sticky, and plentiful, they are easily transferred into homes, offices, and cars. Impossible to get away from, they can cause upper and lower respiratory tract illnesses. But how can they affect your oral health? Most allergy medications can cause dry mouth causing a host of other issues to develop. If you have allergies or are suffering from dry mouth, consult your Lake Forest dentist, Dr. James Fondriest, to discuss treatment options.

Effects Of Seasonal Allergy Medications

Allergies cause a host of uncomfortable symptoms including sneezing; stuffy, itchy, or runny nose; and itchy, watery eyes. Medication is the only relief. The economic impact of upper respiratory seasonal allergies is close to $3.4 billion in medical costs. Nearly half that cost is due to physician prescribed medications. Side effects caused by allergy medications include:

Dry Mouth: Saliva does more than just moisten our food, making it easy to swallow. Although it is 98% water, the other 2% is composed of useful enzymes, antibacterial compounds, mucus, and electrolytes, all which work to protect your mouth against harmful bacteria. A decrease in saliva production can lead to bad breath, tooth decay, gingivitis, and periodontitis.

Mouth Breathing:  A stuffy nose due to allergy congestion can result in breathing through the mouth.  Air against oral tissue dries up saliva causing dry mouth. When gingival, or gum, tissue become dry it can lead to swelling, gum sensitivity, and tooth decay. Research indicates that mouth breathing may lead to palate malformations, dental overbites, and crooked teeth. When breathing through the mouth, the tongue rests on the top palate, causing cheek muscles to relax onto the upper teeth. This long-term pressure can lead to crooked teeth.

Tooth Pain: Many allergy sufferers experience sinus pain in their top teeth. Our maxillary sinuses are located just above the roots of our upper molars. Due to the sensitivity in this area, any irritation can lead to pain. In addition, mucus builds up to defend against the allergens, causing pressure and contributing to the feeling of sinus pressure and pain.

Sleep Apnea: People suffering from seasonal allergies have a higher risk of developing sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a temporary suspension of breathing, which can lead to obesity, diabetes, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. Some signs of sleep apnea include:

  • Snoring: People suffering from sleep apnea often snore excessively.
  • Frequent Wakefulness: People with sleep apnea often wake themselves up from loud snoring. Also, when their breathing stops, their brain will signal them to wake up.
  • Gasping: Caused by lapses in breathing.
  • Snorting: Also caused by lapses in breathing.
  • Choking During Sleep: Due to airway obstruction by the soft palate.

Sleep apnea can be caused by soft palate which is the fleshy part at the top and back of your mouth. A soft or thick palate can obstruct your airway while sleeping. If you are demonstrating symptoms of sleep apnea, visit Dr. Fondriest for an evaluation of the palate. Your dentist may prescribe a mandibular advancement device, similar to a sports mouth guard. Designed to open the airway by positioning the lower jaw and tongue forward, it can help alleviate snoring and other symptoms caused by sleep apnea.

Tips

If you suffer from dry mouth, drink plenty of water to keep your oral tissues moist, and alleviate dryness. Chewing sugar -free gum is recommended to encourage saliva production. Ask your dentist about an oral rinse and other solutions.

If you suffer seasonal allergies, notify your dentist of any allergy medications you take.

About Your Lake Forest Dentist:

If you have questions or concerns regarding seasonal allergies and your oral health, or sleep apnea, Dr. Fondriest can discuss your symptoms and concerns and suggest treatment that’s right for you. Aside from providing dependable family, general, and restorative dentistry services to our community, Dr. James Fondriest also holds respected academic appointments at the Pankey Institute in Key Biscayne, FL, and the Spear Institute in Scottsdale, AZ, and he is an adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Prosthodontics at the University of Florida Dental School. Dr. Fondriest combines his impressive array of experience with modern technology and caring, compassionate, knowledgeable staff, and we proudly serve the Chicago metropolitan area including the North Shore and Northwest suburbs. To schedule a consultation, call our office today at (847) 234-0517.

 

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