Can This Toothpaste Cure Allergies?
New to the dental aisle, Allerdent wants to help you brush away sneezing, sniffling, and itchy eyes. But will the two-minute allergy treatment work?
As you may have noticed, spring allergy season still isn't over. In fact, June is the peak time for grass pollen in many areas of the country, so your sneezing, itchy eyes, and fatigue may actually be getting worse.
Until now, your only hopes for coping with allergy symptoms have been drugs like antihistamines or preventive "cures" like allergy shots. The former can help ease symptoms, but they often carry not-so-great side effects like dry mouth-and recent research has even shown that if you take them enough, they may hurt your brain. As for the latter, even if you don't mind needles, shots are a three-plus year commitment, which ultimately is too much for many people. (Check out 8 Allergy Myths-Busted.)
But there may be an easier fix: a toothpaste.
Granted, we're not talking about your regular tube of Crest. Called Allerdent, this is a toothpaste that actually contains your allergen-if you're allergic to a specific type of tree pollen, for example, it'll be mixed into the paste (either by a compounding pharmacy or your own general practitioner).
It sounds outrageous, but this works in a similar way to allergy shots (and another FDA-approved treatment called sublingual immunotherapy): As you brush, small doses of the allergen get absorbed through the mucus membranes under your tongue and travel to the local lymph nodes, which contain immune system cells. This helps build up your tolerance to the substance, so you (ideally) eventually stop reacting to it at all, explains Bob Pomrenke, the vice president of allergy at QmedRx Compound Pharmacy, which helped create Allerdent.
With shots, though, you have to visit your doctor as often as twice a month for three to five years, which is inconvenient (and, for people who are scared of needles, downright stressful). Even for sublingual immunotherapy, "there's a high dropout rate, and we wanted to find a way to increase compliance," explains Pomrenke. Everyone brushes their teeth daily, so building into that established routine made sense. Plus, you're meant to hold the allergen in your mouth for at least two minutes in order for it to work effectively-the same amount of time you're supposed to spend brushing your teeth (though few people do). So you might improve your gum health as you build up your tolerance to allergies. (Find out What Your Teeth Are Telling You About Your Workout.)
If you're interested, ask your primary physician or ENT about the treatment. They can send a prescription to Allovate, or learn how to mix it themselves in their own office. (And try these 5 Easy At-Home Allergy Remedies.)