If you’re a seasonal allergy sufferer you’re probably quite familiar with the sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, scratchy throat and post nasal drip that go along with it. But another nasty side effect is that while treating your symptoms with antihistamines to ease the discomfort, you can end up having a dry mouth, which can cause bad breath.
Dry mouth is a common side effect of drugs used to treat allergies like decongestants and antihistamines. When your mouth is dry and not producing enough saliva (the self-cleaning mechanism in our mouths or ‘oral car wash’ if you will), that’s where the embarrassing bad breath comes in.
When you have a persistent dry mouth it’s a breeding ground for bacteria since there isn’t enough saliva to flush it away, according to Dr. Youssef Obeid, DDS and a member of the American College of Prosthodontists. “The bacteria and the breakdown of foods doesn’t go away and can sit, especially on the top of the tongue.” The tongue and the inner cheek are the two areas where bacteria thrive when not flushed out properly, but it’s actually pretty easy to take care of, assures Dr. Obeid.
If you’re looking to prevent or banish bad breath Dr. Obeid offers the following five tips:
Brush your tongue.
Bad breath is among the top five reasons people come to my office, says Dr. Obeid. “The truth is people are surprised when I tell them how important it is to keep their tongue as clean as their teeth.” First thing in the morning and before bed make sure you clean your tongue with a toothbrush or invest in a tongue scraper. They’re designed to remove any residue that may be hiding behind taste buds or folds in your tongue.
Chew sugarless gum.
You’re not using the gum to mask the odor, but rather the physical act of chewing will help your mouth manufacture the saliva it needs to wash away the gross stuff — A.K.A. the bad breath culprits.
Eat the right foods.
Crispy fruits and veggies like carrots and apples are also great saliva producers and snacking on them during the day will help keep your hunger at bay (reducing stomach acid build-up, another cause of bad breath).
While drinking water may seem like a no-brainer here (and it is) it’s just as important to not overdo it with caffeinated beverages and sugary drinks. They’ll dehydrate you and dry you out.
Maintain good oral hygiene.
This means keeping your twice a year checkups in check, flossing every day and swapping out your toothbrush regularly. Change your toothbrush when it looks frayed; you should switch to a new soft-bristled toothbrush every three to four months.
If you do all this and you’re still holding your hand over your mouth, you should check with your primary care physician and/or dentist to determine if your bad breath is a sign of something other than a medication side effect.