Asthma is one of the most common diseases in America and affects approximately 25 million Americans. While asthma mainly affects the lungs and respiratory system, your dentist in Austin knows that there is also a lesser-known connection between asthma and problems with oral health.
A Look at the Research
The hypothesis that asthma sufferers also have an increased risk of cavities and other oral health problems has been around for quite some time. In fact, this theory was so strong and has been around for so long that there is now substantial research on the connection between the two. Let’s take a look at what scientists have found.
One of the most common symptoms of asthma is difficulty breathing. This occurs as a result of airway inflammation. To try and breathe deeper, many asthma sufferers will breathe through their mouths instead of their noses. While mouth breathing in and of itself isn’t a problem, what happens as a result of it is. Many mouth breathers experience dry mouth because the constant exposure to air dries out saliva, and production can’t keep up. That’s what’s concerning to your dentist in Austin. When there’s not enough saliva in the mouth, bacteria and acids that are usually rinsed away with it are left lingering around. These bacteria and acids can wear away tooth enamel, and the result is often decay and cavities.
Even if an asthma patient doesn’t breathe out of their mouth, their medications, such as an inhaler, can also result in dry mouth. However, this definitely does not mean an asthma patient should stop using their medication as prescribed- as the benefits outweigh the risks. Plus, there are ways to decrease the effects of dry mouth caused by either medication or mouth breathing.
Lower the Risk
Since much of the research ties dry mouth to the potential increased risk of developing tooth decay or cavities, the best thing to do is combat the dry mouth. The good news is that there are easy ways to do this including:
Drinking A Lot of Water. Our bodies need water to function properly, and our oral health needs to stay hydrated to continue to produce protective saliva. Those who suffer from dry mouth may need more water than those who do not. When in doubt, or whenever the mouth feels dry, drink water.
More About Water. If the mouth feels particularly dry after using an asthma treatment or taking asthma medication, a quick rinse of water can help remove any of the drying ingredients from the mouth, which can then keep the mouth from feeling too dry for too long.
Chewing Gum. Chomping on a piece of sugar-free gum can also help the body produce more saliva. It’s a natural process that occurs whenever we chew to help digestion.
Telling Your Dentist in Austin. As with any piece of health history, it’s important that your dentist knows about any asthma diagnosis as well as any medication used. This will help customize treatment and allow the dental team to keep a close eye on any potential oral health side effects.
Remember, everyone, including asthma sufferers and non-asthma sufferers, can benefit from proper dental care. To fully protect your teeth against decay and to lower the risk of cavities, make sure to brush twice a day, floss once a day, and maintain checkups with your dentist in Austin.