Seasonal allergies and oral health

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  Posted by: The Probe      1st March 2021

Spring is in the air, and while for many this means a much-needed relief from the cold, dark days of winter, it does also mean that the pollen count is on the rise.

Unfortunately, spring is also a herald for seasonal allergies such as hay fever, and can mean that sunny days with a high pollen count end up causing people an array of annoying and unpleasant symptoms.

But did you know that many of these symptoms can also have an indirect effect on people’s oral health?

What is hay fever?

Hay fever is one of the most common allergies in the world, and it is estimated that as many as 10 million people in the UK suffer from hay fever every year. The symptoms are similar to those of a cold or the flu, and usually include itchy eyes, a runny nose and sneezing. There are three different types of pollen that tend to set off this allergy – tree pollen, grass pollen and that from weeds. As the majority of these plants reach their peak pollination cycles during the spring, this means that the warmer months can be hell for people who suffer from allergic responses to one or more of these pollens.[i]

Luckily, hay fever is often quite mild and can often be treated with simple antihistamine tablets – but these tablets can cause some adverse effects.

Hay fever and oral health

Seasonal allergies primarily impact oral health in one way – dry mouth. People who have hay fever tend to breathe through their mouth, and this means that the saliva in their mouth evaporates, leaving their teeth more prone to decay. Furthermore, many antihistamines have the side effect of causing a dry mouth, so even if people are taking medication to prevent hay fever, they may still be putting their oral health at the same risk.[ii]

As such, it’s important to speak to patients about these risks and to give them advice on how to ensure their oral health stays in good condition during these times. Recommending sugar-free chewing gum and other ways to stimulate saliva is a good way to help ward off the risks of dry mouth, and you can also speak to them in more depth about their current oral health regimes to see if there are any areas of improvement to be made.

A helping hand

At the end of the day, hay fever is annoying enough without having to cope with oral health issues on top. By giving patients who suffer from seasonal allergies the advice and guidance they need, you can ensure that they can weather hay fever season with their oral health intact.

 

For more information about the BSDHT, please visit www.bsdht.org.uk,

call 01788 575050 or email enquiries@bsdht.org.uk

 

[i] NHS Inform. Hay Fever. Link: https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/immune-system/hay-fever [Last accessed November 20].

[ii] Mayo Clinic. Antihistamine (oral Route, Parenteral Route, Rectal Route). Link: https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/antihistamine-oral-route-parenteral-route-rectal-route/precautions/drg-20070373 [Last accessed November 20].


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