The Impact Of Asthma On Oral Health
Our Epsom team addresses dental issues around this common medical problem
Asthma is perhaps one of the more common medical issues in the UK, both in children and in adults. With pollution problems still significant and the additional stress that many of us are currently under, this is perhaps no great surprise.
Asthma is usually managed relatively easily through the use of inhalers, but it can, in serious cases, require professional medical intervention.
There are also potential consequences for oral health in those who suffer from this problem. This is especially significant for patients who also suffer from dental phobia and whose stress levels rise when visiting a practice, even ones with a kind and friendly team, like our staff at the Clock Tower Dental Clinic.
Before we discuss its implications, we should perhaps briefly summarise what asthma is. It is a condition that can lead to breathing difficulties of varying degrees. Unfortunately, perhaps because of stress and pollution, it appears to be on the rise in the UK and there are currently somewhere in the region of 4.5 million people in this country who receive medical treatment for it.
How can it impact our oral health?
One common way in which our teeth and gums can be affected by this condition is that many asthma sufferers tend to breathe through their mouth rather than the nose in order to make it easier to breathe. This, unfortunately, will often have the effect of drying out the mouth and reducing the flow of saliva that helps to flush away food and bacteria from between the teeth and gum line. This is likely to cause an increase in the number of potentially harmful bacteria that can contribute to gum disease. If you find that you are breathing through your mouth, do try to drink more water so that you stay better hydrated.
Some of the inhalers used to manage this condition can also create dental issues. The brown steroid inhalers, for example, can cause erosion of the tooth enamel due to the acid content of the medication that is contained in the spray. This can lead to mottling of the teeth, especially in children who use these. If you use this type of inhaler for your asthma, you should swill your mouth with water as soon as you can after using it.
The other inhalers that are used for immediate relief from asthma attacks can also, though less commonly, cause problems in the mouth. These affect the teeth less but can lead to lesions in the mouth and especially on the roof of the mouth. If not treated, these could become infected. Our Epsom dentists will be able to spot any lesions during your regular check ups and may suggest that you speak to your GP about them if they are detected.
Stress and anxiety
Stress and anxiety are common triggers for an asthma attack in many people. However essential it is (and it really is) that you see a dentist, the fact is that a lot of people do find this to be a stressful experience. Whilst most people might just ‘grin and bear it’, for asthma sufferers, it could, in some instances, lead to an asthma attack. If you do suffer from asthma, it is important that you let us know about this, especially if you are about to receive treatment. Although our Epsom dental team always do their best to provide a calm and relaxing environment for the patient, it will be beneficial if they are aware of your condition. You should also keep your inhaler readily available, either in your hand or where you can easily reach it should you need to do so.
As with any medication that you receive, it is important that you let us know what you are being treated with, If you can’t remember the name of the medication, please bring it with you, especially when you change medications. This will be logged on your records and is important so that we can assess your treatment needs safely. All records are, of course, kept strictly private and confidential.
Everybody needs to have their oral health monitored on a regular and ongoing basis. Asthma sufferers are no exception and indeed, may be at a higher risk of gums disease due to the mouth breathing that we mentioned earlier. We do offer a number of options that can help to reduce your dental anxiety and therefore hopefully also reduce the risk of an asthma attack during treatment.
We are always happy to discuss your medical and/or anxiety issues with you to enable you to receive essential oral care. If you would like to discuss this with one of our team, please call the Clock Tower Dental Clinic on 01372 720136. We look forward to seeing you!