If you or members of your family have been itching, sniffling, and sneezing lately, allergies may be to blame. In fact, a recent study shows that allergies may be starting earlier and be more severe than ever before. This could mean that more and more people are experiencing the side effects of high pollen counts, which is unpleasant in and of itself. But your dentist in Ann Arbor also wants you to know that allergies can also cause the body to react in such a way that could increase the risk for cavities and other dental problems.
Mucky Mucus & Mouth Breathing
We’ve all experienced the surge of mucky mucus thanks to seasonal allergies. No matter how unpleasant this feeling is, it’s important to know that it’s a natural response. When we come in contact with an allergen, the body will overproduce mucus, which in turn will cause a stuffy nose. This can make it hard to breathe properly out of the nose, causing us to breathe from the mouth. While the intake of oxygen is sure to please the body, the mouth may disagree.
Why is Mouth Breathing a Bad Thing?
While allergies themselves don’t necessarily directly cause oral health problems, the symptoms can, such as mouth breathing due to a buildup of mucus and a stuffy nose. When we breathe out of our mouths instead of our noses, our mouths dry out faster than normal. Dry mouth is caused by a lack of saliva, and a healthy mouth needs saliva in order to stay healthy. Without it, bad bacteria can linger around and cause bad breath, wear away at protective tooth enamel, cause cavities, and can even result in gum disease. Additionally, and not necessarily related to allergies, mouth breathing while sleeping can be a sign of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a serious condition that can cause someone to stop breathing during sleep, sometimes several times a night. Signs of mouth breathing that should be reported to your dentist in Ann Arbor include snoring and abrupt awakenings.
As if the overproduction of mucus potentially contributing to cavities concerns wasn’t enough, this mucus can also cause pain. An excessive amount of mucus can put pressure on the sinuses, which you may feel in your face or head. But this pressure can also extend to the maxillary sinuses, a nearby neighbor to the roots and nerves of the back teeth. When the maxillary sinuses are inflamed, it can put pressure on those nearby tooth nerves and cause discomfort.
Allergy Medicine Can Help… And Hurt
Anyone suffering from allergies, or who has a child dealing with the symptoms, will often turn to allergy medication to alleviate the uncomfortable side effects of a flare-up. While these medications can relieve some of the stuffiness, itchiness, and drippiness, they too can sometimes cause dry mouth. But lucky for you, your dentist in Ann Arbor knows a few tricks that can reduce the likelihood of experiencing negative side effects of dry mouth, such as:
Chewing sugar-free gum
Using lubricating mouthwash
Sleeping with a humidifier in your bedroom
Allergy season can feel neverending, but we’re here to help. Contact us today to schedule an appointment. Accepting new patients at all of our dental offices in Ann Arbor, Canton, Farmington Hills, and Livonia.