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Understanding Asthma Related Oral Health Concerns

Based on recent data, nearly one out of every 10 Americans lives with some degree of asthma. For some sufferers, asthma is a mild inconvenience, merely requiring them to keep an inhaler on hand. For others, it can be the source of a serious impact on their lives. Academic and career performance can be impacted, as can their ability to sleep properly. In its most severe cases, it can lead to lasting damage in the form of bronchial scarring. This kind of damage to the lung tissue can be the source of breathing problems later in life. Recently evidence has been found that indicates that gum disease, tooth decay, and even mouth ulcers may be more severe in those with asthma. Without taking special care to avoid these complications, the results can be painful and costly.

Asthma Related Oral Health Concerns

The connection between our oral health and asthma becomes quickly apparent when you consider the condition in its entirety. When we breathe deeply or rapidly, such as during an asthma attack, we do it through our mouths. When we use an inhaler to control our asthma, it is administered orally. Both of these expose our teeth, gums, and other oral tissues to stressors that they aren’t designed to handle. They also introduce elements, such as medication that can irritate the sensitive linings of our mouths. Some oral health consequences of having asthma can include the following:

  • Dry Mouth – When an asthma attack occurs, it’s common for the sufferer to breathe rapidly through their mouth. These fast, shallow breaths can lead to saliva rapidly drying out. Saliva certainly has an important role to play in protecting our oral health by washing away debris and bacteria. This helps protect our teeth and limit bad breath.
  • Oral Sores – There are numerous side effects associated with the inhalers used to treat an asthma attack. The majority of these are connected to the oral lining becoming irritated, causing ulcers to occur. This is not an experience faced by all asthma patients with all medications. If you do, a change of medication may help limit or eliminate these symptoms.
  • Thrush – Those who are immunocompromised, elderly, very young, or have certain conditions may be susceptible to thrush. This oral yeast infection is uncommon in otherwise healthy individuals, but asthma sufferers have been identified as being at risk.

These conditions occur with variable frequency in individual asthma patients. Some may experience no difficulties at all, while others may experience severe cases of these conditions. For some, the following tips will have a mitigating effect on the occurrence of these symptoms and side effects:

  • Rinse After Inhaler Use – Every time you use your inhaler, you should be certain to rinse your mouth afterward. This will help wash away the medication from your mouth, soothing irritation to your cheeks, teeth, and gums. You can also brush an additional time a day to help.
  • Drink Water Often – Hydration is the single most important thing you can do to improve your overall health. It helps almost every part of our body function better and can offset concerns caused by using an inhaler.
  • Consider Changing Medication – If you’ve been experiencing frequent or severe side-effects with your inhaler, speak to your physician. They may be able to provide alternative options that won’t have these side effects.
  • Be Proactive About Allergy Control – Asthma attacks tend to be more severe in those with allergies. Taking steps to avoid triggering an allergy response can also help limit how often you experience an Asthma attack. Wear masks on high pollen days and take special care to avoid allergens in general.

You can also speak to your dentist to get further support about protecting your oral health while living with asthma.

Talk to us for ongoing support

Contact us to get effective treatment options for your asthma-related oral health concerns. We’ll be able to work closely with you and your health practitioner to find effective treatment options that limit the impact on your oral health.

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