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Three Ways Seasonal Allergies Can Affect Your Oral Health

Spring has arrived in North Carolina, and with it came those pesky seasonal allergies.

CARY, N.C. – Spring has arrived in North Carolina, and with it came those pesky seasonal allergies. You may find yourself sneezing or suffering from itchy, watery eyes, but the North Carolina Dental Society reminds you not to forget that allergies can also take a toll on your teeth and gums.

“It can be tough for North Carolinians to survive allergy season without coughing and sneezing for days or weeks at a time,” said Dr. Andrew Perry of Davis and Perry DDS PLLC in Raleigh. “Keep up with your brushing and flossing routines, even while you’re suffering, so you don’t cause unnecessary harm to your teeth and gums.”

Be aware of these side effects that often pop up during allergy season:

  • Toothaches. Sinus pain, pressure and congestion caused by allergies can feel an awful lot like a toothache. As sinus pressure builds, it pushes down on the roots of your molars and can cause sensitivity to hot and cold or flare up when you lie down. While you may be keen to brush off any toothaches during allergy season as sinus-related, be aware that the pain can also be a symptom of tooth decay. Talk to your dentist to determine whether it’s a result of allergies or decay.
  • Dry mouth. If you take an antihistamine to treat your allergies, you might end up with dry mouth. Additionally, you tend to breathe through your nose when you’re stuffed up, which also contributes to dry mouth. Not only is dry mouth uncomfortable, but without saliva washing away harmful bacteria in your mouth, you’re more prone to cavities, gum disease and bad breath.
  • Sore throat. When mucus from your sinuses leak into your throat, the phenomenon is known as “postnasal drip.” Postnasal drip can irritate your throat, causing bad breath, a persistent cough and making it hard to sleep at night.

While it may be tough to survive North Carolina allergy season unscathed, here are some suggestions for protecting yourself and your mouth:

  • Stay hydrated. Drinking water throughout the day helps counteract dry mouth and flush away excess mucus. Carry a water bottle with you or chew sugar-free gum to keep your saliva glands working and combat bad breath.
  • Gargle with salt water. Add a teaspoon of salt to a glass of warm water and gargle for a few seconds before spitting it out. Continue until the glass is empty in order to help fight congestion and bacteria that can cause plaque and bad breath.
  • Maintain your daily brushing and flossing routines. Being under the weather is no excuse to slack on your daily oral health routines. Be sure to brush and floss each day, especially when you are experiencing dry mouth or a sore throat.
  • Talk to your dentist. If you’re suffering from a toothache, talk to your dentist about it. He or she can help determine whether it is related to allergies, sinus pressure or the beginnings of a cavity.

To learn more about surviving allergy season with healthy teeth and gums, visit www.mouthhealthy.org or consult a dentist in your area.

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About the North Carolina Dental Society

The North Carolina Dental Society was founded in 1856 and is one of the oldest dental societies in the country. The NCDS represents 3,700 member dentists in North Carolina. Headquartered in Cary, our mission is to help all members succeed. For more information about the NCDS, visit ncdental.org. The North Carolina Dental Society is a part of the American Dental Association, the nation's largest dental association, representing 158,000 dentist members.

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