Spring has sprung! Flowers, leaves and outdoor activities are beginning to blossom, but with that, also brings irritants that make allergies go haywire. All that sniffing, sneezing and mouth breathing can mean trouble for teeth. And if you’re giving your child an antihistamine, be aware that they can affect their oral health.
While allergies themselves don’t do damage to the teeth, they can indirectly cause oral problems. One of the most common oral health concerns experienced is dry mouth. It often appears as a side effect of the antihistamines used to treat allergies or as a result of more frequent mouth breathing allergies might cause.
Because dry mouth decreases saliva, it can damage teeth and gums. Saliva helps wash food particles off teeth, digest food, and neutralize cavity-causing acids from plaque. When you don’t have enough saliva, your risk for tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease increases.
HOW ANTIHISTAMINES (AND DECONGESTANTS) WORK
Antihistamines block histamine receptors to prevent allergic reactions. However, this same effect happens in other areas of the body, including the mouth and tongue.
Antihistamines also block the release of saliva, which results in dry mouth and can increase the risk for cavities.
Decongestants are another common treatment for allergies and the common cold which can also create dry mouth.
Cough syrups create another level of damage to the teeth in that they’re usually high in sugar and highly acidic, which, like antihistamines, can lead to tooth decay.
The good news is that remedies are readily available. Relief can be as simple as drinking more water, chewing sugar-free gum, sucking on sugar-free hard candy, and sleeping with a humidifier. If these remedies aren’t working, the pediatric dentists at Alameda Pediatric Dentistry might suggest treatments like saliva substitutes.
Allergies can be a pain but preventing them from hurting your child’s teeth doesn’t have to be. By knowing what to expect and being proactive, your child can stay smiling all spring long!