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Asthma and your mouth – what you need to know

Perhaps you or your child are asthma sufferers. Asthma can be a debilitating condition which can impact on your quality of life. But do you know how asthma can affect your mouth? This week’s blog discusses what asthma is, how asthma and the mouth are linked and asthma symptoms in the mouth. Read on to find out more..

What is asthma?

According to Asthma Australia, 1 in 9 Australians have asthma. This is approximately 2.5 million Aussies suffering with this respiratory condition. Asthma sufferers have an excess of mucus which narrows the airways and they present with breathlessness and wheezing. Using an inhaler to breathe in medication helps to open up the airways. In doing so, some of this medicine sits in the mouth and can cause it to become dry, inflamed and sore.

How is asthma and the mouth linked?

The mouth and asthma are closely linked. Dry mouth, fungal infections and dry mouth are some of the problems asthma sufferers may face and these are explored in greater depth later on. Inhalers are used to prevent and manage asthma attacks. Since these inhalers contain steroids, they can increase the risk of developing tooth decay, enamel erosion, gum disease and fungal infections. This increased risk means that asthma sufferers must ensure they take extra care of their oral health and focus on prevention of tooth decay and gum disease. One of the ways to prevent these problems is to regularly get checkups and cleans. At Riverstone Family Dental we urge patients to get 6 monthly checkups and cleans to ensure problems are tackled early or prevented. You can book in by calling us on 8678 3538. It is important to tell your dentist if you have asthma and any medications you are taking. If these medications change, then remember to update your dentist as well.

Asthma symptoms in the mouth

Dry mouth

Asthma sufferers may have dry mouth, placing them at a higher risk of developing tooth decay and gum infections. Saliva acts as a protective agent in the mouth. Saliva flows into spaces between the teeth and helps flush out any food lodged there. When there is little saliva, bacteria can thrive in the mouth and cause infections. Saliva also acts as a lubricant and helps with chewing and swallowing food. Without saliva, we are more prone to cutting and irritating the soft tissues of our mouths. Furthermore, denture-wearers can find it difficult to wear their dentures when their mouth is dry.

Tooth erosion can also be seen in higher numbers in asthma sufferers. Studies show that this may be due to a higher incidence of reflux in asthmatics.

Fungal infections

Some inhalers used to treat asthma may contain steroids. This can cause fungal infections such as Candidiasis in the soft tissue of the mouth. This can present as patches of white and red on the tongue, roof of the mouth and back of the mouth.

Bite problems

Children suffering from asthma develop a habit of mouth breathing. Allergies can exacerbate asthma symptoms and a blocked nose and sinus problems can lead to mouthbreathing. Mouthbreathing leads to a bad bite and increases the likelihood of needing orthodontic treatment to correct bite issues.

6 dental tips for asthma sufferers

  1. Rinse your mouth after using your inhaler.
  2. Look after your oral hygiene and keep on top of your toothbrushing and flossing.
  3. Stay hydrated by drinking water throughout the day, especially after mealtimes. Chewing sugar-free chewing gum can also help stimulate saliva flow.
  4. Limit your consumption of sugary foods and drinks.
  5. If you are experiencing dry mouth, talk to your dentist about what products they recommend you use to alleviate this.
  6. Be mindful and breathe during dental appointments. Some asthma attacks can be brought on by anxiety. So let’s try and focus on anti-anxiety techniques. It is also best to take your inhaler with you to your dental appointments.

 

Do you need a gentle family dentist? Give us a call at Riverstone Family Dental on 8678 3538.

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