Asthma affects an estimated 25 million Americans. This lifelong respiratory disease can be found in both kids and adults and can make it hard to breathe, causing wheezing, coughing, and chest tightness. But outside of these scary respiratory symptoms, could asthma also affect oral health? Let’s check in with your dentist in Jenkintown.
Many medications can impact oral health. Asthma medication is no exception, especially inhalers. A recent study found that some asthma inhalers increased the likelihood of developing cavities. Inhalers allow medication to be inhaled directly into the mouth and enter the lungs quickly. But this also allows the medication to come into direct contact with teeth. Some ingredients in inhalers can weaken tooth enamel and increase the risk of cavities. Additionally, the more often an inhaler is used, the more the risk increases.
Asthma medications can also contain drying agents that can decrease saliva production and cause dry mouth. Dry mouth is a condition that concerns your dentist in Jenkintown because it can lead to a host of other oral health problems. When saliva production is low and the mouth is dry, bad bacteria are left lingering around the mouth. These bacteria can multiply and damage enamel, putting your teeth at risk for decay. But that’s not all. Dry mouth can also cause bad breath and gum disease.
The concerns with dry mouth aren’t only because of ingredients in medication. Asthmatics are also more likely to breathe out of their mouths than their noses as it allows them to get more oxygen. Mouth breathing can quickly dry up saliva and decrease its production, again increasing the likelihood of oral health problems.
What You Can Do to Lower the Risk
First and foremost, you should never stop taking medication without first talking with your physician. Make sure to discuss your side effects and your concerns. Additionally, if you’re experiencing dry mouth, there are things you can do to relieve the discomfort and protect your teeth.
- Drink Water. Drinking water throughout the day will help keep the mouth hydrated and wash away those bad bacteria. Asthmatics may need to drink more water than non-asthmatics, but everyone should drink the recommended amount of water every day. You can also try rinsing your mouth out with water after taking medication to rinse off the drying ingredients.
- Chew Gum. Actively chewing will help the body naturally produce saliva. Just make sure the gum is sugarless so your teeth aren’t bathing in sugar, which can bring on a whole other set of problems.
- Tell Your Dentist. Your dentist in Jenkintown should know your entire health history as well as all medications. If you have a condition or are taking medications that can cause dry mouth, they may be able to recommend a hydrating mouth rinse or other solutions.
The best way to protect teeth, whether you have asthma or not, is to have a good oral hygiene routine. Brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing once a day can help eliminate bacteria and reduce the risk of cavities and other problems. Also, make sure to see your dentist twice a year for regular checkups.