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Hay fever and oral health

News

  Posted by: The Probe      4th April 2019

The unpleasant side effects of hay fever may lead to oral health issues – a fact that is worth mentioning to patients during the finer weather…

The cold is melting away, the flowers are blooming and you can finally leave the house without fifteen layers on – it can only mean that spring is on the horizon. However, whilst this brings with it the promise of sunnier days, it also means that for many people hay fever season is here.

You’re probably more than familiar with hay fever (allergic rhinitis) already. The condition is one of the most common allergies in the UK, with an estimated 13 million people suffering from it every spring/summer. Caused by our immune system overreacting to allergens such as pollen in the air, this condition can cause runny and itchy eyes, stuffy noses, headaches, facial swelling and even shortness of breath. Whilst these symptoms are, for the most part, far from dangerous, they can still cause a number of issues in regards to oral health.

One of the most unfortunate side effects of hay fever in regards to oral health is that it can cause toothache. Sinus pain is a common accompaniment to our immune systems fighting off any allergies, and this is usually caused by the hollow spaces in our head filling up with mucus. The maxillary sinus is particularly affected in these situations, and pressure from the build up of mucus can press down on tooth roots, causing pain and discomfort until the allergies have passed.

Another nasty side effect of hay fever is dry mouth or xerostomia. As allergies can prevent people being able to breathe through their nose – especially during sleep – this quickly leads to sustained mouth breathing that can dry up the saliva. Saliva has been proven to be an effective natural shield against cavities and decay; as such, if saliva is not present, then the mouth fast becomes a perfect environment for bad bacteria to multiply, instantly putting people at an enhanced risk.

Bad breath is also a common side effect of dry mouth. This can have many repercussions in day-to-day life and surveys have proven that bad breath can quickly impact people’s self confidence, as well as leading them to have negative interactions with other people.

Finally, hay fever may also cause some people to suffer from a sore throat. This, too, can quickly lead to bad breath if bacteria is able to build up – as this bacteria is likely to be at the back of the throat, simply brushing won’t help.

In light of these problems, it’s important for professionals to be extra vigilant during hay fever season and any high pollen days. If a patient comes to see you suffering from hay fever symptoms you should let them know how this can affect their oral health and suggest that they purchase some antihistamines to help alleviate any problems.

Spring may be a beautiful time of year filled with hope and new life, but for hay fever sufferers, it can be a real challenge. By making sure your patients are aware of the risks that hay fever can have on their oral health, you can help them to keep their mouths healthy.

For more information about the BSDHT, visit www.bsdht.org.uk, call 01788 575050 or email enquiries@ bsdht.org.uk 

About the author

Julie Deverick is BSDHT President.


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