Are those facial aches your sinuses or a dental issue?
Allergies are the bugbear of many people, hitting every year during pollen season or coming up through unexpected contact with an allergen. If you suffer from frequent allergic reactions, pain in your face and jaw is probably a constant issue – but how can you tell whether the pain is a normal reaction, or a dental issue?
The effects of allergies can cause both phantom pains and real dental issues. It’s important to know what your mouth is telling you, and what to do about it.
The wide-ranging effects of allergies
While most people who are allergic know their usual symptoms very well, allergies can result in an unexpected range of reactions, and a lot of these have an impact on your dental health:
- Swelling in the lips, tongue, and tissues of the mouth
- Nasal congestion
- Sore throat
- Muscle tension
The range of symptoms caused by allergies comes from the body’s basic response to an allergen. The body responds by gearing up the immune system, which is designed to attack infectious microorganisms. As the immune system involves organs all over the body, the immune response to an allergen can involve many areas of your body.
Allergens can also enter the body by being inhaled, ingested or absorbed through the skin. As the body gets in gear to flush out or attack the allergen, the immediate area that came into contact with the allergen will be affected, but other areas will become involved too.
Tooth pain and allergies: how it works
A tooth ache is not an unusual symptom of environmentally-triggered allergies. If you come into contact with an allergen – such as dog or cat hair, dust, or pollen – your body has an immune response, trying to flush out the allergen or attack it if it’s already in your system.
When it comes to environmental allergens, your sinuses are usually the first affected, and this is actually how your teeth begin to ache. Your system responds to the allergen by filling the sinuses with mucus. This creates a feeling of pressure and occasionally pain.
The pressure in your sinuses can have the knock-on effect of irritating the nerves in your teeth, as the tooth roots are pressed down upon. Your upper molars are particularly likely to be affected, and you may notice an ache in the upper back part of your mouth, similar to that caused by a cavity.
Pain in the teeth isn’t the only effect allergies have on your dental health. Because of the wide-ranging effects you feel when suffering an allergic reaction, the ecosystem of your mouth can be affected in multiple ways, such as dryness in the mouth due to mouth breathing or medication or teeth grinding caused by muscle tension.
Facial pain and allergies
One of the more disturbing symptoms of allergies affecting the sinuses is pain in the upper jaw and facial area. It’s entirely possible to mistake such pain for a very serious developing dental problem.
As the sinuses are a series of cavities in the face, the pain caused by them can be felt in unusual places. Referred pain from blocked sinuses can feel like your teeth are being squished together, much like having an overcrowded jaw. Depending on the areas in which you are experiencing sinus blockages, you might feel pain more on one side of your face than the other, and this pain can be similar to the feeling of a developing tooth abscess.
As an abscess can be a serious issue, it’s important to continue to see your dentist when you experience these symptoms.
Jaw pain and allergies
Pressure from blocked sinuses isn’t the only reason for experiencing pain in the mouth and jaw. The whole-body effect of allergies can have an impact on your mouth via the muscles in your jaw.
The irritation of dealing with an allergy has an effect across your whole body. Seasonal allergies frequently bring with them headaches and watery eyes, and both of these can cause muscles to tense up in the rest of your body. As muscles tense in one area of the body, tension is carried down the line, ultimately resulting in a build-up of pain in certain areas.
For many people, this results in pain in the shoulders, neck and jaw. You may find that when your sinuses clog up, your bottom teeth as well as your top teeth begin to ache. This is not necessarily a cause for worry, but it’s still a good idea to consult a dentist.
Tension experienced in the jaw can be a danger to teeth in other ways, however. A tense jaw often results in clenched teeth or unusual placement of the tongue in the mouth. Because the tension is constant, it’s likely that you won’t notice how it’s affecting your mouth, but it could be doing damage to the structure of your teeth. If you’re experiencing tension in your jaw it’s likely you’ll need help to prevent this damage.
Sore throat and allergies
A sore throat is often an irritating accompaniment to an allergy, and it brings with it more confusing symptoms. Not only is your throat dry and sore, you may start to notice a distressing bad breath smell, one that doesn’t get better with brushing your teeth.
Presence of bad breath is a well-known sign of dental decay, but it isn’t always dental decay causing the bad breath. When you’re suffering from allergies, a post-nasal drip can be irritating your throat and causing bacteria there to flourish. Unfortunately, thebad breath caused by this will not improve by brushing and flossing, as the source is within the throat. If you’re experiencing bad breath from a sore throat, keep drinking water to flush out your system.
Are allergies dangerous for your teeth?
In general, allergies don’t pose a direct threat to your teeth, but there are some aspects of treating allergies which can cause problems.
Many types of medications can impact the teeth in structural or functional ways, and this is usually noted on the list of side effects. The real impact these side effects have on your health aren’t always clear, however, and one of these may come up when you take medications to treat the symptoms of allergies. When it comes to the antihistamines commonly used to combat the effects of allergies, the threat to teeth is a dry mouth, or xerostomia.
Antihistamines work against the effects of allergies to dry up mucus. Unfortunately, the same systems producing mucus are also producing saliva, which is an important factor in oral health. Saliva helps with the processing of food and keeps the mouth comfortable – but more importantly it protects the delicate ecosystem inside the mouth. The clear liquid contains essential proteins and minerals which protect tooth enamel and prevent gum disease, and also fights the germs that cause tooth decay.
Unexpected causes of dry mouth
People suffering from allergies might experience dry mouth regardless of the medication they’re taking, and it has to do with how they sleep. Generally, people sleep with their mouths closed, maintaining the moist environment their mouth needs through the night. Whenever someone is experiencing nasal congestion, however, their mouth opens during the night for easier breathing.
This cause of dry mouth is much harder to avoid, but it’s just as easy to treat as dry mouth brought on by medication use.
Dry mouth is easy to diagnose.Increased thirst or a dry or gummy feeling in the mouth are the main symptoms reported. Dryness in the throat, cracked lips or soreness or dryness at the corners of the mouth are also common signs. More extreme symptoms involve a loss of sense of taste and swelling in the tongue, gums and tissues of the mouth.
If figuring out you have a dry mouth is simple, treatment for dry mouth is similarly easy: water. Drinking plenty of water is the first option for treatment when you have a dry mouth, and is usually effective. Chewing some sugar-free gum can stimulate the saliva glands. If the dryness persists, whether or not you suspect it’s linked to your medication, it’s a good idea to consult your dentist to ensure the ongoing health of your teeth.
Dairy allergy and teeth
It’s not only environmental allergies that can present a danger to your dental health. Diet-related allergies can affect your teeth through the things you’re consuming – and the things you’re not consuming.
People with an allergy to dairy, for example, may be at risk for calcium deficiency, and this can have a huge impact on their teeth. As we all learned in kindergarten, calcium is particularly important for healthy teeth and gums.
Calcium deficiency affects dental health in three ways: loss of bone mass and disease in the gums. When someone is calcium deficient, they can develop osteoperosis, which is well known for affecting the bones. It affects the teeth through bone loss in the jaw, which affects the anchoring of the teeth. The body also needs calcium in maintaining healthy teeth.
A low level of calcium can affect the development of gum disease or peridontitis. Calcium is one of the nutrients necessary for healthy gums as it is part of the required nutrients for tissue growth.
Proper attention to diet is necessary for anyone who has a food allergy, and it is entirely possible to maintain a health level of calcium while avoiding dairy. It is a good idea, however, to consult with a dentist if you feel food allergies have significantly altered your diet.
Childhood allergies and dental health
Allergies can have a surprisingly long-lasting effect when they’re suffered in childhood. This is because a child’s reaction to allergies has a complex interaction with their growing body. When it comes to a child suffering chronic allergies, tooth pain could well be in their future.
In general, brief, acute reactions to allergies have as much affect on children as they do on adults; namely, very little. Children who experience chronic allergic reactions may require more consideration, however. Chronic environmental allergies often leads to stuffy noses, and this has an impact on the development of a child’s mouth. As their mouth grows, it can adapt to the lack of air coming in through the nose, subtly changing shape and causing malocclusion, or uneven distribution of teeth in the jaw.
Dietary allergies again have a long term effect for children. Dietary allergies that result in a lack of adequate calcium and other nutrients impacts on growing teeth. A child whose diet is deficient in calcium can experience dental problems later in life.
What to do when allergies are causing tooth pain
Self-care should be your first concern when you’re suffering from allergies, it is best to follow your usual processes for relieving your symptoms. Drinking plenty of water can help flush the mucus from your system and clear the blockages that are causing pain, as can gargling with salt water. Taking your regular allergy medication is also recommended.
It might be tempting to cease brushing and flossing your teeth when your mouth is hurting, but it’s important to keep up with your regular dental hygiene routine. When you’re suffering from allergies your teeth are vulnerable, and dental health is all the more important.
With a suspected explanation for your tooth pain, it doesn’t mean you don’t have to worry about the state of your teeth. Whenever you feel tooth pain, it’s always best to visit a dentist. Although the pain might be related to your allergies, it is difficult to tell without scans whether there is an underlying issue with your teeth.Leave a reply →