How to help your patients with seasonal allergies 

a dental patient suffers from spring allergies


If you have seasonal allergies, you know the symptoms right away. Watery eyes. Itchy ears. Congestion. Headaches. And the sneezes. So, so many sneezes.

But it’s not just airways, sinuses and nasal passages that are affected by seasonal allergy triggers. Oral health is directly tied to these areas and can also suffer the effects of allergy symptoms.

Learn more about the different ways seasonal allergies affect oral health and steps you can offer patients to help reduce their impact.

Dry mouth

This is the most common oral health side effect of seasonal allergies. When we’re congested, nasal passages make it hard to breath through our nose like we normally would, so we breathe through our mouth instead. This dries up our saliva, which is an important tool for preventing gum disease and tooth decay. When patients lose that layer of protection in the mouth, teeth and gums are prone to bacteria.

Drinking plenty of water or chewing some sugar-free gum will generate saliva to help counter the effects of dry mouth.


Swollen or red gums

Many people who suffer from seasonal allergies also contend with postnasal drip, which can cause a sore throat and swollen tonsils. When combined with the effects of congested mouth breathing, this can lead to red or swollen gums. When inflamed, gums are more sensitive, which may make it harder for patients to brush and floss to prevent the onset of gingivitis and gum disease.

How to reduce the effects of seasonal allergies

Seasonal allergies are hard to avoid, but there are steps you can advise patients to take to reduce their impact:

  • Check the weather report on TV or online to see what the pollen count is. If it is high, avoid outdoor activity early in the morning when counts are at their peak.

  • Keep indoor air dry with dehumidifier to help reduce allergens in your home.

  • While it may smell nice, avoid hanging laundry outside during allergy season. Pollen can stick to clothes and linens.

  • Try to stay indoors on dry, windy days to reduce contact with allergy triggers.

  • Use an over-the-counter remedy, like oral antihistamines and nasal sprays. (Make sure you loop in your health care provider to make sure you can take these safely.)

  • Wear a mask outside if you are cutting grass or gardening during high pollen count days.

Sometimes, precautionary measures and home remedies aren’t enough to ease symptoms to a manageable level. In this case, a patient’s health care provider might recommend an allergy test to hone in on symptoms or allergy shots to help reduce the immune system’s reaction to triggers over time.


The bottom line: Season allergies are a pain for millions of Americans and can impact oral health. But by taking steps to avoid allergy triggers and reduce their impact, your patients’ smiles will benefit just as much as their airways.