Thanks to a year with more rain than usual, more plants, trees and flowers are blooming with increased pollen in the air, and with that- a brutal allergy season upon us. Now in full swing, the sneezing, coughing, running nose, tearing eyes, and sinus congestion are all common symptoms that most people are familiar with. However, another more subtle manifestation that is less suspected as related to seasonal allergies is toothache. Often this pain surfaces in one or more of your maxillary (upper) molars because the roots of these teeth often lie at the base of the maxillary sinuses. In addition, the sinuses and teeth are innervated by branches of the same nerve, the Trigeminal nerve. Toothache pain can present with, or without, many of the other allergy/sinus symptoms and a sinus related toothache may also produce swollen gums, headache, fatigue, and cause swelling of the face and gums. Patients will appear in the dental chair convinced that they have a dental infection or exposed nerve. In reality, a simple dental exam and x-ray can often rule out a dental related problem or infection and expose sinus involvement instead.
Many over-the-counter sinus and allergy medicines contain antihistamines that may relieve the symptoms, but unfortunately, most do not alleviate the cause. These medications also can have many other side effects as well. A more proactive approach begins with diet and eating natural foods that are important "A's" of the A-List Diet.
1. Alkalizing:Often allergies are worse when the body is acidic. Choosing foods that can have an alkalizing effect helps to alleviate the stagnant congestion that can lead to infection, Choose alkalizing fruits such as watermelon, tangerine, pineapple and raspberry and take supplements such as Quercitin, a bioflavonoid, and buffered vitamin C.
2. Anti-inflammatory:Many foods can serve as inflammatory triggers that promote congestion. The most common are dairy and gluten. These inflammatory triggers can vary for some people so a food allergy/sensitivity test can help to tailor you own person anti-inflammatory diet. Turmeric and ginger are great natural anti-inflammatory spices. Also supplements such as omega-3 essential fatty acids contain eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which is a natural anti-inflammatory.
3. Antioxidant-rich:Eating foods that are high in important antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, coenzyme Q-10, vitamin B, Panthothenic acid, Quercitin and vitamin A are all essential when your immune system is "on high alert" from allergy irritants wreaking havoc on the body. Again, Quercitin is a powerful antioxidant that has also been shown to block the release of the body's own histamines. Antioxidant-rich foods are many of the leafy greens, and apples remain a gold standard for health. Other powerful natural foods are cherries, broccoli, avocados and pears.
Lastly, let's not forget the old-fashioned ways of controlling pollen! Do some spring cleaning - dust off your furniture and vacuum your closets. Take showers at the end of the day to wash off the allergens that cling to your body and clothing. Change your clothes before going to bed so that you don't spread allergens onto your bedding. In the end, treat yourself to glass of good red wine every once in a while- it's high in Quercitin and grape seed extract. Remember, with a proactive approach, you will be able to smile your way ALL thorough the allergy season!
Dr. Gerry Curatola is a renowned aesthetic dentist and pioneer in the emerging field of rejuvenation dentistry, which improves patients' overall health and appearance by integrating total wellness with cutting edge oral care and restorative procedures. In addition to his private practice, research, and work as a Clinical Associate Professor at NYU College of Dentistry, he is an internationally sought after speaker, author and expert who has been featured widely in print and broadcast media. For more information, go to