Asthma, a chronic respiratory condition affecting millions of individuals worldwide, is primarily known for its impact on the lungs and airways. Its symptoms include wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath and chest tightness. While asthma primarily affects the lungs, one of the main concerns for individuals with asthma is the increased risk of developing oral health problems. People with asthma are prone to experiencing oral health problems such as thrush and dry mouth, which create a perfect environment for tooth decay, gum disease and bad breath. Let’s understand the link between asthma and oral health.
Health Shots got in touch with Dr Diksha Tahilramani Batra, The Pain-Free Dentist Prosthodontist, Implantalogist, and Smile Design Specialist, to understand the link between asthma and oral health problems.
Dr Batra says, “Asthma affects millions of people worldwide. While most individuals are aware of the common symptoms associated with asthma, such as wheezing and difficulty breathing, many may not realize its impact on oral health. If left untreated, asthma could lead to long-term dental problems.” Let’s understand the link between asthma and oral health.
Link between asthma and oral health
Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition that affects the airways, causing them to become inflamed and narrow, leading to breathing difficulties. This can cause dry mouth. According to Dr Batra, “Dry mouth increases the risk of tooth decay because there is less saliva to protect the teeth from bacteria.”
Apart from that, inhalers, which are used to manage asthma symptoms, contain corticosteroids, which can increase the risk of developing oral thrush, a fungal infection in the mouth. The corticosteroids can also inhibit the production of saliva, leading to dry mouth, which can increase the likelihood of tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath.
Moreover, medications for asthma, such as immunosuppressants (like steroids), can also increase the chances of infection in the mouth. This can also result in oral conditions like thrush, bad breath, and damaged tooth enamel.
How to avoid oral health problems in asthma patients?
Managing oral health is important for everyone, including individuals with asthma. Here are some tips to help you maintain good oral hygiene while managing asthma:
1. Control asthma symptoms
Properly managing your asthma is the first step in maintaining good oral health. Take your prescribed medications as directed by your healthcare provider to keep your asthma symptoms under control. This will help minimize the risk of oral health problems.
2. Maintain a good oral hygiene routine:
Follow a regular oral hygiene routine of brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing daily. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste to clean your teeth and gums effectively. Pay special attention to the gum line and areas around the teeth.
Also read: Is switching to an electric toothbrush better oral health? Try these 5 options
3. Rinse after using inhalers:
If you use inhalers for your asthma, rinse your mouth with water or brush your teeth after each use. Inhalers, particularly those containing corticosteroids, can increase the risk of oral thrush (a fungal infection) and dry mouth. Rinsing or brushing helps remove any residue left in your mouth.
4. Stay hydrated:
Drink plenty of water throughout the day to help combat dry mouth, a common side effect of asthma medications. Dry mouth can contribute to dental issues like tooth decay and bad breath. Water helps keep your mouth moist and encourages saliva production, which aids in cleaning the teeth and neutralizing acids.
5. Visit your dentist regularly:
Schedule regular dental check-ups and cleanings with your dentist. Inform them about your asthma condition and the medications you are taking. Regular dental visits can help detect and treat any oral health issues early on.
6. Discuss asthma management with your dentist:
If you have asthma, inform your dentist about your condition and any medications you are taking. This will allow them to consider your overall health when planning treatments or prescribing any additional medications. Your dentist can work with your healthcare provider to ensure coordinated care.
7. Avoid triggers:
Identify and minimize exposure to triggers that may worsen your asthma symptoms or affect your oral health. Common triggers include tobacco smoke, allergens, certain foods, and environmental pollutants. Minimizing exposure to these triggers can help maintain better overall health.
Remember, it’s important to maintain a holistic approach to your health, considering both asthma management and oral health as integral parts of your well-being. Consulting with your healthcare provider and dentist regularly will ensure better management.