Identify Your Allergen

If your oral health condition is caused by an allergic reaction, or a tissue irritant, you might be putting something directly in your mouth to cause the condition. Alternatively, some other means of exposure is causing your problem. All you have to do is identify the culprit and terminate your exposure to it.

There was a time in your life when you did not have oral problems. Then you did.

What Changed?

You know basically when these problems started. Think about what changed. Whatever changed is likely something that you added to your life, right around that time. Alternatively, it could have been some time before but was not evident until the accumulated effects of the tissue damage caused a visible manifestation.

Since a histamine release can cause a stinging or burning sensation, anything that you put in your mouth that causes that sensation should cause suspicion. It is very common to be allergic to mouthwash and toothpaste. The fact that mouthwash stings is not a good reason to disregard it as a potential cause. You cannot distinguish the sting caused by mouthwash from the sting caused by a histamine release. Do not be misled to believe that something has to sting as much as mouthwash to be the culprit because you may not react severely enough to a particular compound to cause that degree of stinging sensation. Anything that you put in your mouth that causes any form of irritation to your oral tissues however minor should raise suspicion.

If the causal agent is not immediately obvious then as you put things in your mouth throughout the day keep the above questions in mind. Consider each item before you put it in your mouth and ask yourself

After you put it in your mouth, be attentive to any sort of irritation that it causes. This irritation, burning or stinging may not be evident for 20 minutes. Even if it does not produce as stinging or burning sensation, be attentive to any discomfort. If it is something that you keep in your mouth for a while, such as a mint, as you increase the amount of exposure over time by keeping it there, be attentive to any unusual response or discomfort that it might be causing. The same principle applies to soda and hot and cold drinks that you may work on over a period of time.

If you cannot figure out what it is, total elimination may prove it out. Initially, you can try elimination of those items that are common causes of allergic reactions and that you put in your mouth. Type I hypersensitivities may heal very quickly and effects should be significantly noticeable in the oral tissues within 2 weeks. The other types may not heal as quickly and total elimination for 60 days might be necessary.

Try rinsing your mouth out when you have completed the usage or consumption of each item that you introduce into it. This will not stop the allergic response. It may help to rinse away any residual substance, which may assist in identifying any discomfort or irritation with each new event. The reason that this may help is because the residue of the substance is only going to perpetuate the allergic response until your body has dealt with all of the substance. Rinsing can help distinguish the effects of one item from another.

Check your throat periodically for the abscense or presence of hives.

Common Culprits

Fillings and other dental work. If you had some dental work done shortly before you acquired oral problems then the dental work can be a cause of suspicion. The amount of material you are exposed to makes a difference. Even if you had the same fillings before, the additional amount may have been enough to trigger the allergic response to point where it is now visible. An allergy to dental filling material or other dental material is not uncommon. Some additional signs might be chronic acne, sinusitis, black eyes and a burning mouth.

Food. You can be allergic to an ingredient in the food that you are eating, or allergic to a food item. If you eat something and it causes any sort of stomach or abdominal discomfort then you might be suspicious. Be attentive to any sort of nausea, dizziness, spaciness, headaches or stomach or abdominal pain shortly after eating that food item. If you experience abdominal bloating, cramps or other discomfort after an hour of consuming an item, it can be suspicious. Any food item that raises your pulse is suspicious. If you experience itchy skin or hives after consuming a food item, this should also raise suspicion. These effects can be caused by the food itself, spices, or by other additives in the food. Natural flavor does not mean non harmful, non toxic or non allergenic. It means that the substance is likely derived from natural animal or plant sources. This includes MSG which is included under natural flavor. MSG masquerades under a variety of different names: Sodium salt of glutamic acid, MSG, glutamic acid, monosodium salt, monohydrate. There are a variety of foods that you can be tested for.

Environmental. Something that you are exposed to, but not putting in your mouth, can absorb through your skin and end up in your mouth where it attaches to one or more oral tissues. This explains the phenomena of putting a compound on your hands and tasting it in your mouth a few seconds later. Not all compounds absorb into your skin that way. You cannot taste all compounds that absorb into your skin and being able to taste it is not a good way to tell if it absorbed or not. The fact that you can smell something is because molecules of the substance are attaching to your nasal tissues where it causes a nervous signal to the brain to identify the smell. This obviously means that molecules that you inhale are also entering your body, like air fresheners, that you can smell. The same is true for those substances that you cannot smell, they are entering your body too. A new car or a new job might have introduced something that was not there before. If you have a housekeeper maybe they changed what they are using. You may have shampooed your carpet 2 years ago and it is still leaching chemicals. Do not disregard something on the premise that it cannot possibly be the cause. You can be allergic to a new house plant, new carpeting, or the fibers in your new clothes. Be attentive to any discomfort in your mouth after exposure to items in your environment. Whatever it is, you can bring it, or a piece of it, to your doctor and they can usually test you for it.

Systemic Effects. The immune response can have systemic effects. If you cannot come up with a correlation of what changed and the condition in your mouth, then consider instead when any systemic problems first appeared and what changed around that time.

Itching. If your clothes or anything else makes you itch, that is suspect. If you get hives (itchy eruptions on your skin) or itchy skin after being exposed to something, that food or substance should be suspect. Anything that makes you itch is suspect.

Items used Daily. When a commercial product is available in a "hypoallergenic" form, this is often because the original product invoked an allergic reaction in a relatively high percentage of the population, to cause a demand for a product that contains fewer or less allergens. That does not mean that the hypoallergenic form does not contain allergens. Many companies market products that are supposedly hypoallergenic, yet when you check the ingredients you find the common allergens, such as fragrance or perfume. One of the driving forces behind food labeling was the fact that a significant portion of the population reacts to food additives as well as a variety of foods.

A large percentage of the population reacts to the following compounds:

Fragrance, detergents, laundry additives, any sort of food additive such as artificial flavors, colors and preservatives, natural food flavorings. Plant oils and plant products found in food and in cleaners. Msg. Chemical compounds in toothpaste and mouthwash, detergents and cleaners, SLS, DLS, compounds in soap, shampoo, conditioner, moisturizers, makeup, deodorants, latex, something in their medications, spices or herbs, carpeting and carpet treatments, synthetics and metals. SLS and DLS are in most toothpastes. See the section on mouthwash and toothpastes for more information.

From Discovery Health:

"Contact and Chemical Allergy Chart Here's a list of some of the chemicals and other substances that are more likely to cause reactions, the products where they're found, and the skin and other reactions they can cause: "

They list one potential type of reaction. You can react to any substance in any one or more of the four different categories.,DSC|~st,24479|~r,WSDSC000|~b,*|

Unfortunately it may be unreasonable to expect your MD to nail down the agent for you, especially initially. You are the only one who knows what you do with every minute of every day and what you are exposing yourself to and how long it has been going on. You can feel the effects of introducing an agent and make the cause and effect relationship. The numbers of agents that can cause the problem and the fact that it is completely individualized makes it extremely difficult for someone else to help you identify the agent. Your MD can suggest items that commonly cause this problem. Since your MD is familiar with your medical history, he or she may have further suggestions that would be more suspicious for you.

Combinations. Allergies can happen as a result of combinations. You may not be allergic to certain items unless you put them together.

Re-Introducing the Suspect. When you do reintroduce the substance, you must wait at least 3 days for results, per item. The first time you re-introduce the item, do it just once, don't use a lot of substance and wait three days. You may react to it the same way many people react to poison ivy. Be sure to consult your MD or immunologist about any allergy medications that you are taking as they will interfere with your ability to figure out what you are allergic to. If no reaction took place and you are still suspicious of that item, use repeated exposures over the course of several days. You may be a mild reactor and repeated exposures will compound the effects and make it more obvious. A huge amount of exposure all at once is not likely going to make the culprit obvious unless you are severely allergic to it. Repeated exposures are more likely to make it obvious. You should wait about 5 days after there are no signs of a reaction before testing the next item.

If you read the section on the Allergic Response, you know that the signs of a reaction can show up anywhere between seconds after the introduction of the offending substance to three days later. The amount of time it takes the reaction to show up depends entirely on how you react to it. Two different people can react two different ways to exactly the same chemical substance.

Type I responses may cause a burning or a stinging sensation, or other discomfort within seconds or up to 20 minutes.
Type III responses might cause low saliva, dry eyes, or the signs of any of the immune complex disorders
Type IV responses may cause a blistering or a rash

Tissue Damage. If you cannot identify your particular allergen, then total elimination is necessary. Your tissue may have so much damage that it is numb and essentially unable to react the way it normally would if it was healthy. Something that caused a stinging or burning sensation on the first few exposures, may not be stinging anymore. If you are in this position, you need to do the total elimination for 60 days and allow your existing tissue damage to heal and your body to get back into its proper balance of sending and receiving chemical messengers between all of your tissues.



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