Skip to main content

5 Ways Allergy Season Can Impact Kids’ Oral Health

By May 21, 2024June 17th, 2024Blog

It’s officially Spring. Otherwise known for some as Allergy Season. It’s a time that can be tough on everyone, but for kids, it can be especially uncomfortable and have some unexpected effects on their oral health. While most parents are on the lookout for sneezes and sniffles, there’s a lesser-known side to seasonal allergies that involves teeth.

Here, your Naperville pediatric dentists at Innovative Pediatric Dentistry talk about five ways allergy season can impact your child’s teeth and gums, and what you can do to help. Get ready to tackle allergies and teeth troubles with ease!

1. Tooth Pain from Sinus Pressure

Tooth pain from allergies? Woah. Yes, one of the most surprising connections between allergies and oral health is the tooth pain caused by sinus congestion. When allergies strike, your kiddo’s sinuses can become inflamed and swollen, leading to pressure they can feel in their teeth. This discomfort is often felt in the upper back teeth since they are close to the sinus area. If your child complains of tooth pain, it could be from sinuses affected by allergies.

How to Manage It:

  • Ensure your child drinks plenty of fluids to help thin mucus.
  • Use a cool-mist humidifier in your child’s room to reduce sinus congestion.
  • Consult with a pediatrician about appropriate allergy medications.
  • Give your child over-the-counter pain relief such as kids’ ibuprofen or acetaminophen at the recommended dosage for their age or weight.

We also suggest making an appointment with your Naperville pediatric dentists to double-check that your child’s tooth pain doesn’t stem from a dental problem like cavities or gum disease!

2. Tooth Sensitivity

Seasonal allergies can also cause tooth sensitivity in some kids. How? Nasal inflammation can put pressure on tooth roots and nerves, making your child’s teeth feel sensitive to hot, cold, or sweet foods and drinks.

How to Manage It:

  • Use a soft- or extra-soft bristled toothbrush to lessen the pressure your kids put on their teeth when brushing. Kids (and let’s be honest, adults, too!) tend to brush their teeth too hard so a soft toothbrush will be more gentle on sensitive teeth.
  • Experiment with finding the type of foods that won’t hurt your child’s teeth. One plus side is that it’s a good opportunity to cut down on sweet foods and drinks!
  • Try a tooth sensitivity toothpaste formulated especially for kids. Most toothpaste for sensitive teeth is for ages 12+ so check labels carefully. Or ask us for our top picks!

3. Dry Mouth from Medications

Many common allergy medications, including antihistamines and inhalers, can reduce saliva production, leading to dry mouth. Saliva is crucial for washing away food particles and neutralizing acids produced by oral bacteria. How can a drier mouth and less saliva negatively impact your child’s oral health? Simply put, their teeth can be more susceptible to cavities and gum disease.

How to Manage It:

  • Encourage your child to sip water throughout the day. (Send a reusable water bottle to school with them.)
  • Offer sugar-free chewing gum to stimulate saliva production, especially one with xylitol which has the added advantage of actually being good for your teeth!
  • Discuss with your pediatric dentist or doctor about using medications that have minimal effects on saliva production.

4. Bad Breath from Postnasal Drip

Another oral health challenge during allergy season is bad breath caused by postnasal drip. What is postnasal drip? It’s when excess mucus from the sinuses drips down the back of the throat, creating an ideal environment for bacteria to grow. These bacteria can produce foul-smelling compounds, leading to persistent bad breath.

You can tell that your child might have postnasal drip if they’re clearing their throat a lot or coughing when they’re not actually sick.

How to Manage It:

  • Maintain good dental hygiene, including brushing twice a day and flossing once a day.
  • Find a kid-friendly, non-alcohol based antibacterial mouthwash. Make sure it has fluoride too, for added teeth strengthening!
  • Drink extra water throughout the day.
  • Use a tongue scraper to remove mucus and bacteria from the tongue.
  • Lessen dairy products, which can thicken mucus.
  • Consult with your family doctor or pediatrician for treatments or medications that will manage your child’s allergies more effectively.
  • Gargle with salt water to draw the mucus out of the sinuses. Dissolve a tablespoon of salt into a glass of warm water. Have your child gargle and spit until the whole glass is gone.

5. Gum Inflammation

Allergies can not only trigger respiratory symptoms but also inflammation throughout the body, including the gums. Inflamed gum tissue can be more susceptible to irritation and infection, potentially leading to gingivitis or more severe gum disease in susceptible kids.

How to Manage It:

  • Level up your child’s oral hygiene routine, especially during allergy season. This can include ensuring they brush for the recommended two-minute time span, and adding dental floss and mouthwash (with fluoride!) to their at-home dental care routine.
  • Consider getting your child a water flosser like this kid’s Waterpik. It’s a fun way to help remove debris and plaque along the gumline and can soothe irritated gums, too.
  • Schedule regular dental check-ups with your child’s pediatric dentist to monitor and manage gum health.

Keeping Up Those Smiles Throughout the Allergy Season

Understanding the link between allergies and teeth can help you manage your child’s oral symptoms when they flare up. Take a proactive approach with excellent dental care and managing allergy symptoms to help your child feel better. Don’t let the pollen count get your child down—let’s keep your kiddo’s smile healthy and bright all season long!

Contact your award-winning Naperville pediatric dentists, we’re here to help your child enjoy their happiest and healthiest smile, 365 days a year. Our technology-forward pediatric dental office is fun, upbeat and sensory-friendly.