The season for drippy noses, sinus infections and colds has arrived. In addition to making you feel under the weather, is that ticklish buildup of mucus at the back of your throat causing unexpected dental or oral health problems?
Does Post Nasal Drip Affect Dental Health?
It is a common misconception that bad breath, also known as halitosis, can be the result of postnasal drip. Erin O'Brien, M.D., answering questions for the Otorhinolaryngology Department at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, says that a drip does not cause oral odor; however, symptoms that often accompany a drip, such as an infection or the common cold, can cause bad breath. When the amount of mucus production is lessened due to illness or medications, it can cause dry mouth and a build up of bacteria or decaying food particles, which in turn can result in bad breath and the beginning of dental decay.
Having postnasal drip is not a medical condition. The production of clear, odorless mucus is a natural process to keep the throat moist and healthy. If the body creates too much mucus, you may need to clear your throat or cough. If an overproduction of mucus becomes persistent, it may indicate trouble with gastric reflux and should be evaluated by your physician.
If your drip is associated with gastric reflux or another systemic illness such as liver disease or lung disease, you may experience dry mouth and bad breath. Schedule routine oral checkups to ensure healthy gums, teeth and tongue.
Under the guidance of a physician, you can significantly reduce the discomfort that accompanies overstimulation of postnasal mucus production. The Mayo Clinic recommends:
- Sleeping with your head slightly elevated to promote drainage.
- Losing weight if necessary.
- Avoiding foods and beverages immediately before bedtime.
In general, postnasal drip does not have any negative effects on your dental health. Even so, if the drip becomes bothersome, it could be a sign that something else is amiss with your health, which could ultimately lead to other medical or oral issues.
Learn more about oral care and causes of bad breath in the Colgate Oral Care resources.
This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.