The Impact Of Asthma On Your Oral Health

This common health issue means that additional attention needs to be paid to your teeth and gums

Asthma is a fairly common problem in the UK, with around 8 million people, or 12% of the population having it. Whether it is exacerbated by pollen, pollution or other factors, it is a growing problem that can vary in seriousness and for some, can have a significantly negative impact on their lives.

There are risks to our teeth and gums too if we have asthma as we will discuss in today’s Burton dentist blog.

How does asthma impact our teeth and gums?

The main way that this occurs is that asthma restricts the flow of oxygen through the airways. Many asthmatics tend to breathe through their mouth, rather than through their nose, in order to get sufficient oxygen. The problem with this is that breathing through the mouth is more likely to cause it to become dry. As we know from previous blogs that we have written about gum disease, this is a contributing factor to both gingivitis and periodontitis.  Whilst some of this problem can be eased through ensuring that we stay well hydrated, continuous mouth breathing makes it more difficult to prevent “dry mouth” simply through drinking water.

Some of the treatments available for asthma may also contribute to a dry mouth, in addition to problems such as oral thrush in the case of certain preventative inhalers. This is one of the reasons that those who use them are told to rinse their mouth afterwards or brush their teeth lightly to remove any deposits that remain in the oral cavity.

Children who use inhalers may also suffer from ‘mottled’ teeth. This is caused by mildly acid products in some inhalers that can damage the enamel. If your child uses this type of inhaler, make sure to encourage them to swill their mouth out with water afterwards.

Dental anxiety

Although asthma is often caused by pollution and other external factors, it can also be triggered by anxiety attacks. As we know, visiting the dentist can be quite a stressful occasion for some people, even causing them to miss or cancel appointments. This is probably even more likely in patients that have asthma as they may be aware that their dental anxiety could trigger an asthma attack. A long term failure to visit our Burton dental practice however, even for checkups, is very likely to lead to a number of oral health issues including tooth decay and gum disease.

What should asthmatics do?

The one thing that asthmatics should not do, is to avoid seeing a dentist for checkups on a regular basis. If you suffer from asthma, especially if triggered by anxiety, please talk openly to our friendly dental team so that we are aware of it and can make sure that we do what we can to make your visits as calm and easy as we possibly can. If you use a preventative inhaler, make sure that you rinse your mouth well, and gargle, after using it. If you give your teeth an extra brushing after using it, make sure that this is done lightly as excessive teeth cleaning can cause enamel erosion which may lead to tooth sensitivity and tooth decay.

Be aware of the risks of a dry mouth and try to remember to breathe through your nose, rather than your mouth, as much as you can. Make sure to drink plenty of water, and not high sugar soft drinks, throughout the day to ensure that you stay hydrated. You might also find that chewing sugar free chewing gum will encourage more saliva production as well.

Be aware of potential signs of gum disease and even if you already see a dentist on a six monthly basis, make sure that you contact them if you have any of the symptoms of gum disease. These might include bleeding gums when you brush your teeth, redness or soreness of the gums, painful or tender gums, and bad breath, or halitosis. If you detect any of these symptoms, make sure to give us a call to arrange an appointment.

Providing that you follow the guidance given, your asthma should not have a significant impact on your teeth and gums. Where problems have already occurred, our Burton patients can take advantage of some of the restorative dental treatments that we have available at Mike Allen’s Dental Practice.

If you would like to discuss any aspect of your oral health, our friendly team is here to help you. If you would like to make an appointment, please do so by calling us on 01283 845345.