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Asthma and your oral health

Asthma and your oral health

Asthma can affect more than your lungs. This respiratory condition can increase your chances of developing cavities, gum disease and oral sores, but with the right preventive measures, you can lower these risks and maintain a healthy mouth.

Dental health risks

  • Dry mouth. People with asthma are more likely than the general population to suffer from dry mouth. This is because asthma restricts air flow, making people with the condition more likely to breathe through their mouth. What’s more, the medication in inhalers can further dry out the mouth. This makes it easier for plaque-causing bacteria to multiply, which increases your chances of bad breath, tooth decay and gum disease.
  • Oral sores. Using an inhaler may irritate the back roof of the mouth, causing sores and thrush. Additionally, this area can become infected, which may spread and affect your throat and the rest of your mouth.

How to protect yourself

  • Rinse your mouth after using your inhaler. It’s even better if you can brush your teeth.
  • Stay hydrated. Drinking water throughout the day can counteract the effects of dry mouth.
  • Talk to your dentist. Let your dentist know that you have asthma and provide details about the type of medication you use. Your dentist may be able to recommend strategies to improve your oral health.
  • Try a different inhaler. Some types of asthma medication are associated with more cavities than others. Some may even contain sugar to make the medicine taste sweeter! See if your physician can help you find an inhaler that won’t put your teeth at risk.
  • Treat allergies. Asthma and allergies often go hand in hand. If you suffer from a stuffy nose frequently, talk to your dentist about treatment options. With proper treatment for your allergies, you’re less likely to breathe through your mouth.
  • Stay on top of your dental hygiene. As always, be vigilant about brushing and flossing.
How to protect yourself

Asthma and anxiety

Asthma attacks can be induced by stressful situations. If the thought of going to the dentist makes you nervous, you can try these strategies to curb your anxiety.

  • Slow down and breathe. Focus on breathing regularly and slowly during dental procedures. When you are nervous, you are more likely to hold your breath, which decreases oxygen levels and increases panic.
  • Avoid caffeine before dental appointments. Caffeine can intensify anxiety.
  • Eat a healthy meal. On the day of your appointment, make sure you eat a balanced meal. Opt for protein over sugar to stabilize your mood.
  • Plan around your schedule. Book your appointment for a time of day when you’re less likely to feel rushed. For some people, this might mean a Saturday or an early-morning appointment.

Finally, always remember to bring your inhaler to your dental appointment in case of an asthma attack.

Last updated December 14, 2021

The oral health information on this website is intended for educational purposes only. Always consult a licensed dentist or other qualified health care professional for any questions concerning your oral health.