Asthma is one of the most common diseases in America and affects approximately 25 million Americans — 6 million of which are children or adolescents. While asthma mainly affects the lungs and respiratory system, your pediatric dentist in Chattanooga knows that there is also a lesser-known connection between asthma and problems with oral health.
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 so long that there’s been 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 pediatric dentist in Chattanooga. 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.
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:
Remember, everyone, including asthma sufferers and non-asthma sufferers, can benefit from proper dental care. To fully protect your child’s teeth against decay and to lower the risk of cavities, make sure they brush twice a day, floss once a day, and maintain checkups with your pediatric dentist in Chattanooga.