With Spring on our doorstep many Portlandians are hailing the end of a long, wet winter with celebration and song. Not so, those of us with seasonal allergies. According to experts, this year is scheduled to be an especially trying allergy season. How might this affect your oral health?

Let your SE Portland dentist fill you in…

Under pressure

One of the worst symptoms of seasonal allergies is sinus pressure. Sinuses are pockets of bone lined with sensitive mucous membrane. The most famous sinuses are those located in the face, each named for the bone it is housed in: maxillary, frontal, etc. The sinuses play a role in immune defense and are one of the casualties when the immune system overreacts– as it does in seasonal allergies.

Sinus pressure starts to affect our oral health when there is a great deal of swelling and pressure in the maxillary sinuses, which are located, of course, in the maxillary bone directly above the upper molars. Congestion in the maxillary sinuses puts pressure on these tooth roots causes aching and pain. Relieving sinus congestion through antihistamines most often will relieve the tooth pain as well; if it doesn’t, be sure to contact our office for assistance.

Dry mouth

Speaking of antihistamines, one of the unfortunate effects of medications is that they have side effects. One common side effect of many medications is dry mouth, which is worse for your teeth than you might first expect!

Saliva plays a huge role in oral health; it washes away lingering food particles and even bacteria, as well as has antimicrobial properties. It also keeps alkalizes the pH of the mouth, and aids in remineralizing damaged enamel to keep your teeth strong and well-protected against acid attacks from food or bacteria.

When medications reduce the amount of saliva, your mouth is at greater risk for cavities, halitosis, as well as gum disease. If one of your medications (allergy or otherwise) causes you to experience dry mouth, this is an important topic to discuss with Dr. Sue. Together we can work out some ways to combat dry mouth and protect your dental health as best as possible.

Sore throat

A sore throat is most commonly associated with colds; unfortunately, cold symptoms are among the most common complaints of allergy sufferers! Inflammation and consequent increase of mucus in the nasal sinuses causes the infamous “post-nasal drip,” or leakage from the sinus cavity into the back of the throat.

The mucus membrane of the throat is highly sensitive and often very irritated by post-nasal drip, creating soreness, difficulty swallowing, a “scratchy” feeling, and sometimes pain when talking. Emollient drinks like lemon tea with honey are common folk remedies for post-nasal drip, but addressing the inflammation and pressure in the sinuses is the real root of the problem.

Suffering from spring allergies?

Your SE Portland dentist and the whole team at Sue Walker Dentistry are here to help. Call us or discuss the problem with Dr. Sue at your next dental appointment— we look forward to seeing you!


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