Asthma and oral health issues? It is not a connection that would strike you at first. These appear to be distinct health issues targeting different parts of the body. However, there is a connection between asthma and oral health, one that will seem clear and expected if you delve deeper into it.
Read on to find out more about this connection. But first, what is asthma? Asthma is a long-term disease affecting your lungs. It causes your airways to become inflamed (red and swollen) and narrow, making it harder for you to breathe.
Asthma And Oral Health
If you suffer from asthma, you may find it difficult to breathe through your nose due to the restricted air passages. You end up breathing frequently through your mouth. This may also lead to less production of saliva or saliva of poorer quality. The mouth breathing and ineffective saliva production result in a dry mouth.
A dry mouth can cause various oral health concerns since saliva is essential for keeping a check on bacterial overgrowth in your mouth. When harmful bacteria and fungi are allowed to overgrow, you may begin to experience dental issues such as tooth decay, gingivitis (inflammation of the gums due to bacterial infection), and oral candidiasis (a fungal infection).
Those who have asthma are also more likely to experience gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD). With GERD, the mouth experiences exposure to acid that can erode the teeth enamel and cause disease and decay.
Lastly, a visit to the dentist can be anxiety-inducing for many, and some patients with asthma may be nervous about getting an asthma attack due to anxiety. They may choose to avoid visiting the dentist, which may lead to worsening dental hygiene.
Consequences of Asthma Treatment on Oral Health
The treatments that are used for asthma can also affect your oral health. Inhalers used for medication in asthma may irritate the back roof of your mouth and result in lesions and ulcers, which can become infected and spread to the mouth and throat.
Also, asthma medication such as corticosteroids may reduce the production of saliva and lead to tooth decay.
Further, asthma often occurs alongside allergies, which can block your sinuses (the hollow spaces within the bones behind your eyes, cheekbones, and forehead). Sinus blockage increases your chances of developing a dry mouth, compromising your oral health.
How to Minimise the Effect of Asthma on Oral Health
Here are some things you can do to counteract the effect of asthma on your oral health.
1. Visit the dentist regularly. Patients with asthma need to have regular dental checkups and teeth cleaning so that oral health concerns can be addressed before they turn serious.
2. Make sure your dentist is aware that you have asthma and discuss the medications you use. Also disclose to the dentist if you suffer from dental anxiety, so that they can ensure your comfort.
3. Clean your mouth every time you use an inhaler. Whenever you use your inhaler, brush your teeth or if that is not feasible, at least rinse your mouth with water to remove traces of any medication.
4. Keep your mouth hydrated. Drink enough water throughout the day and chew sugar-free gum to encourage saliva production, keep excess bacteria at bay, and discourage plaque (the sticky film of bacteria and food debris on your teeth) buildup.
5. Deal with your allergies. If you have asthma, you may also suffer from allergies occasionally. Take proactive steps to treat and manage these allergies so that you can breathe through your nose and reduce the occurrence of dry mouth.
Do not ignore your dental health, especially if you have asthma. A dedicated oral care routine and regular visits to the dentist will help in keeping your health in check.
Disclaimer: This article is written by the Practitioner for informational and educational purposes only. The content presented on this page should not be considered as a substitute for medical expertise. Please "DO NOT SELF-MEDICATE" and seek professional help regarding any health conditions or concerns. Practo will not be responsible for any act or omission arising from the interpretation of the content present on this page.