If you have developed unusual oral symptoms unrelated to medical conditions or poor dental hygiene, you may have food allergies, and should see your dentist.

While some of the most common symptoms of food allergies are rash, hives, itching, and wheezing, they may also be responsible for abnormalities of teeth, gums, lips, and the lining of your cheeks.

Here are three ways food allergies and their treatments can affect your mouth, and what you can do about them:

Gum Inflammation

Food allergies can lead to gum inflammation because when you eat something that you’re allergic to, your body releases chemicals that are called cytokines, or pro-inflammatory cytokines.

These substances not only cause systemic inflammation, but can also cause local swelling inside your mouth.

If your swollen gums are unrelated to gingivitis, you might have food allergies. Your personal dentist can determine if your symptoms are related to your oral hygiene practices or something else, such as allergies.

If your dental professional is unable to determine the cause of your gingival inflammation, you may be referred to your family physician or an allergist.

Dental Caries

While food allergies may not responsible for your carious teeth, their treatments may heighten the risk. People who have allergies are often prescribed antihistamines to relieve their symptoms, and while effective for symptomatic relief of food allergies, they can diminish salivary flow and cause a dry mouth.

Saliva is very effective in removing cavity-causing bacteria from your mouth, and when it is produced only in small amounts, microorganisms can accumulate in your oral cavity.

When this happens, you may be more likely to get cavities and infections of the tooth pulp. To combat the dry mouth effects of your antihistamines, drink plenty of water to help wash away bacteria.

Abnormal Cheek Lining

Food allergies can cause the inside of your mouth to swell. While this swelling usually affects your throat, tongue, and lips, the lining of your cheeks can be affected as well. When this happens, you may notice that the insides of your cheeks are very red and irritated, and they may be more prone to bite injuries when you eat, chew gum, or sleep.

Your dentist can perform an oral examination to evaluate the health of your oral mucosa, and if necessary, recommend a medicated rinse to help diminish inflammation and prevent infection.

If you have food or other allergies, work with both your personal dentist and primary physician to develop an effective treatment plan. The sooner your allergies are managed, the more likely you are to enjoy optimal oral health.