New Delhi: When we narrow in on a single part of the body or a condition, certain issues can be overlooked. Parts of the body are interconnected, and it can be helpful to view the body like a machine with many moving parts. Managing your asthma can be challenging enough, but it is important to pay attention to other parts of the body. While the focus of asthma is predominantly the lungs, giving attention to oral health, including your tongue, teeth, and throat, is important too.

People with asthma often experience dry mouth, which can be caused by breathing through the mouth due to restricted airflow or a decrease in saliva production. Dry mouth can lead to various oral health issues, including gingivitis, tooth decay, and oral candidiasis. Additionally, poor dental health resulting from bacterial overgrowth can lead to systemic health issues over time.

Like any medication, asthma medication can have potential side effects. There have been several studies that discuss the link between asthma and different aspects of oral health. The use of corticosteroids, anticholinergics, and bronchodilators can affect your teeth and throat. 

Asthma treatments, such as inhalers, can exacerbate dry mouth due to mouth breathing, increasing the risk of dried-out oral tissues. Sinus blockage from allergies can also contribute to dry mouth. Inhaler use can also cause lesions and ulcers on the roof of the mouth and throat, which may require antibiotics to treat. Imbalanced pH levels in the mouth can result in Candida overgrowth and the development of oral thrush.

People with asthma are more prone to developing gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD), which exposes the mouth to acid that can erode tooth enamel and cause tooth decay. Some patients may turn to sugary syrups or gums to mask the taste of their medications, further increasing the risk of cavities and tooth decay. Dr Nirali Patel, Smile Design Expert & Oral Implantologist FICOI, USA shares tips on how the effects of asthma can be prevented on oral health:

Here are five steps to prevent the effects of asthma on teeth and gums:

1. Communicate with your dentist:

Inform your dentist that you have asthma and provide them with details about your medications. If you experience dental anxiety, your dentist can develop a plan to make you feel more comfortable.

2. Schedule regular dental check-ups:

Patients with asthma should have regular dental exams and cleanings to address tooth decay or erosion before it becomes more serious. Ask your dentist if you need additional cleanings or fluoride treatments.

3. Clean your mouth after inhaler use:

If possible, brush your teeth after using an inhaler. If not, rinse your mouth with water. Using a fluoride mouth rinse can also provide additional protection.

4. Prevent dry mouth:

Drinking water throughout the day can prevent excess bacteria growth and dry mouth. Chewing sugar-free gum between meals can stimulate saliva production and keep your mouth hydrated.

5. Manage allergies:

Treating allergies can reduce the need to breathe through your mouth. As many asthmatic patients also suffer from allergies, staying on top of them is essential.

Make sure to see your dentist regularly. They will be able to identify any of these potential conditions and offer a protocol. As your dentist would say, brush twice a day, and floss every day. Keep in touch with both your dentist and doctor and communicate any changes in your mouth or throat to keep your asthma and oral health in check.

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