“Saliva works to prevent infection by controlling bacteria and fungi in the mouth,” said Vicki Coury, RDH, MEd, MPH, OU College of Dentistry Department of Dental Hygiene Chair who also sees patients in OU Dentistry Faculty Practice. “The obstruction of nasal passages naturally increases mouth breathing, which reduces the amount of saliva we produce and results in dry mouth.”
Unfortunately, treating allergies through medication will not alleviate dry mouth, and could increase the problem, as dry mouth is a common side effect of many allergy medications.
How do you know if your allergies are causing dry mouth? Symptoms include:
– sticky, dry feeling in the mouth
– frequent thirst
– sores in the mouth
– cracked lips
– dry feeling in the throat
– burning or tingling sensation in the mouth and especially on the tongue
– dry, red, raw tongue
– problems speaking or difficulty tasting, chewing, and swallowing
– hoarseness, dry nasal passages, sore throat
– bad breath
“Dry mouth is an oral health issue, because it increases a person’s risk of gum disease, tooth decay and mouth infections,” said Coury. “It can also make denture wearing difficult.”
If changing allergy medications is not an option, there are other solutions to treating dry mouth. Your dentist or hygienist can recommend an oral rinse or gum product to restore mouth moisture. Individuals should also drink plenty of water, brush with a fluoride toothpaste and visit the dentist and hygienist regularly.
“Patients who have dry mouth can take an active role to manage the condition. By using the appropriate products and practices, dental health risks can be minimized,” said Coury.
OU Dentistry Faculty Practice is a multi-specialty dental practice where care is provided by professors of the OU College of Dentistry. The practice is composed of more than 30 doctors of dental surgery and dental hygienists who serve adults and children. Because the practice offers comprehensive services, all treatment needs can be met in one convenient location.