3 Ways Food Allergies Can Harm Your Child's Mouth

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If your child wears braces and has developed any unusual sores, bleeding, pain, or inflammation inside the mouth, he or she might have food allergies, and should see a childrens orthodontist as soon as possible.

While the most common signs of a food allergy are abdominal pain, stomach upset, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, problems with your child's teeth, tongue, gum tissue, and lips may also occur. You may also notice that your child has discoloration or skin texture changes on the skin that lines the insides of the cheeks. Here are three ways common food allergies and their treatments can cause problems with your child's oral health and what you can do about them:

Gum Abnormalities

Your child's food allergy can cause abnormalities with gum tissue such as inflammation, excessive redness, pain, and bleeding. Food allergies can cause the body to release cytokines, which are pro-inflammatory substances, into the bloodstream.

Cytokines can promote systemic inflammation and can also heighten your child's risk for developing an inflammatory response inside the mouth. If your child develops gum inflammation or pain after eating, or if the gums itch or burn, food allergies may be to blame Make an appointment with your child's dentist and an allergist, who can perform sensitivity tests to determine which foods trigger a reaction.

Dental Cavities

While food allergies are not thought to be directly related to the development of cavities, the medications your child takes to manage allergic symptoms may raise the risk for carious teeth.  Kids who have allergies sometimes take over-the-counter antihistamines, and while these medications are effective in suppressing an allergic response, they can cause adverse reactions such as a dry mouth. 

When the salivary glands are unable to produce enough saliva because of antihistamine-related dry mouth, cavity-causing microorganisms can accumulate inside the mouth, putting your child at risk for infections of tooth pulp and cavities. If your child takes medications to control allergies, make sure he or she drinks plenty of water throughout the day to help wash away germs inside the mouth and to help keep oral tissues from drying out.

Cheek Lining Abnormalities

If your child develops any abnormal swelling inside the mouth, he or she may have food allergies. Certain allergens in foods can cause inflammation of the lips, tongue, pharynx and the lining of the cheeks.

When the cheek lining becomes inflamed as a result of a food allergy, people may be more susceptible to accidentally biting it when chewing. This can raise the risk for an oral infection, so it is important that your child sees the orthodontist as soon as possible for a check up.

In addition to examining the cheek lining for abnormalities, the orthodontist will also check your child's brackets to make sure that they still fit properly and are not causing further injury to the cheek lining or gum tissue. if your child's dentist discovers any abnormalities on the inner cheeks, he or she can prescribe a special mouthwash to help reduce the risk for infection.

If you believe your child has food allergies, work with both the orthodontist and physician to develop a therapeutic plan of care that will help keep your child's mouth healthy while managing  food allergy symptoms. When food allergies are treated in a timely manner, your child will be less likely to experience problems with metal hardware, teeth, gums, and oral tissues.