May is Asthma Awareness Month, a time when both healthcare professionals and asthma patients come together to raise awareness of the common chronic disease, as well as share things that can improve asthma sufferers’ lives. Your dentist in Wicker Park may seem like an odd person to talk about asthma, but the truth is, there is a connection between asthma and oral health, and we’d like to do our part to help.
Asthma affects 1 in every 13 Americans, or close to 25 million people just in our part of the world. This life-long condition affects the respiratory system and can cause shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, and chest tightness. It’s a very serious condition that can be treated, but if it’s not treated properly or quickly enough, it can lead to death. So how exactly does this relate to dentistry?
People with asthma tend to have a hard time breathing and feel as if they can’t get enough oxygen with each breath. Because of this, many asthma patients will breathe out of their mouths instead of their noses, since they can get more air into the lungs this way. However, your dentist in Wicker Park wants you to know that mouth breathing doesn’t come without risks. Mouth breathing can reduce saliva amounts, as well as the body’s ability to produce more saliva, resulting in dry mouth. Dry mouth is an oral health condition that may seem like only a minor, uncomfortable nuisance, but the truth is dry mouth can increase the risk of decay, cavities, bad breath, and gum disease. Usually, saliva will rinse away bacteria and neutralize acids in the mouth, protecting teeth against their damaging effects. However, when a mouth is too dry to do this, bacteria and acids can attack teeth, resulting in decay. Additionally, when bacteria are left to linger around, it can lead to bad breath.
Similar to mouth breathing, many asthma treatments, such as inhalers, also cause dry mouth. As we know, a dry mouth is a perfect environment for bacteria and acids to cause damage. If patients do notice a dry mouth after taking their medication, they should talk with their doctor and dentist in Wicker Park to find ways to relieve dry mouth. Never stop taking a medication without first consulting with your physician.
There is some good news for asthma patients who are dealing with dry mouth as a result of either medication or mouth breathing. There are things you can do decrease your risk of oral health problems such as:
As always, the best ways to protect oral health against decay, bad breath, and gum disease are to brush and floss every day and to see your dentist in Wicker Park every six months for checkups and professional cleanings, whether you’re an asthma patient or not.