Beware How Asthma Affects Oral Care

by Joshua Allen, DMD, Owner & Dentist, Keep Smiling Family Dentistry

If you have asthma, you are likely aware of how it affects your breathing and your quality of life. But did you know that asthma can also affect your oral health and dental care?

Here are some ways that asthma and its treatments can impact you in these areas and what you can do to prevent or minimize any negative effects.

Dry mouth: People with asthma tend to breathe through their mouths more often than their noses, which quickly dries out the mouth. Some asthma medications, such as inhalers and nebulizers, can reduce saliva production.

Saliva provides a crucial role in keeping the oral tissues moist and healthy. It washes away food particles, neutralizes acids and prevents plaque buildup.

Dry mouth can increase the risk of tooth decay, gum disease, bad breath and oral infections.

Mouth sores and oral thrush: Potential side effects of asthma medications include throat irritation and oral thrush, a fungal infection that causes white patches, redness and soreness in the mouth.

Asthma attack: It’s best to avoid known triggers of asthma attacks. However, sometimes a stressful situation or unexpected irritant can provoke an asthma attack. Visiting the dentist gives many people anxiety.

To reduce these adverse effects of asthma on your oral health, here are some tips:

  • Regularly visit your dentist and inform them about your asthma diagnosis and medications.

Your dentist can help you adjust your dental care plan.

  • Remember the basics: brush your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, floss daily and limit acidic/sugary foods and beverages.
  • Rinse your mouth with water after using an inhaler or a nebulizer.
  • Chew sugar-free gum or use artificial saliva products to stimulate saliva flow.
  • Use a humidifier at night to add moisture to the air.
  • Always bring your inhaler to your dental appointment in case of an asthma attack.
  • If you have dental anxiety, take steps to calm your nerves before and during your dental appointment. For example, despite being nervous, try not to hold your breath. Focus on breathing calmly and slowly. Avoid caffeine and eat a balanced meal beforehand.