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The Interrelation of Our Oral Health And Respiratory Concerns Like Asthma

Woman using an asthma spray

Out of all people in the United States, nearly 10% of them suffer from one degree of asthma or another. The experience of each of those affected may vary, but the overall struggles involved with living with this condition are similar. Complications from living with asthma can make it difficult to perform well in school, be effective at work, and can impact their ability to sleep well. The worst cases can experience difficulty breathing due to a permanent narrowing of the bronchial tubes that medication struggles to correct. On top of all of this, recent studies are showing that there are real connections between asthma and oral health concerns that result from it.


Oral Health Risks That Occur In A Life With Asthma

For many dental patients with asthma, the idea that it could be having a direct effect on their oral health comes as a surprise. It doesn’t take much clarification, however, to bring it starkly into focus just how this respiratory condition can lead to oral health complications.


  • Dry Mouth – Airflow restriction caused by asthma attacks can induce those suffering from it to habitually breathe through their mouths. This habit leads to the evaporation of saliva resulting in a condition called dry mouth. Due to saliva’s role in defending the health of our teeth by fighting bacteria, this increases the risks of decay.
  • Oral Sores – The medication that is contained in an inhaler can cause some asthma sufferers to develop sores in their oral cavity. Irritation, tenderness, and open sores known as mouth ulcers can result.
  • Thrush – Dry mouth and other factors of asthma can lead to the development of an oral yeast infection known as thrush. In addition to asthma sufferers, it’s common in the elderly, the young, and those with compromised immune systems.


While these conditions are those most commonly associated with oral health complications in asthma sufferers, there are methods to address them. Each of the following tips can help mitigate oral health risks occurring with asthma.


  • Rinse After Each Inhaler Use – Following every use of the inhaler, it helps to immediately rinse with clean water. Brushing your teeth is also a good option, but moderation is important if attacks are frequent.
  • Drink Plenty of Water – Getting hydration helps to ensure that dry mouth is prevented and saliva flow is sufficient.
  • Communicate With Your Dentist – Speaking to your dentist provides you with the opportunity to tap into a huge font of dental information. They’ll be aware of the latest strategies used to mitigate oral health concerns in asthma sufferers.
  • Change Inhalers – Every asthma sufferer responds differently to the available medications. If yours is causing trouble, consider seeking a different prescription.
  • Control Allergy Breakouts – Asthma sufferers can help reduce attacks by avoiding contact with known allergens. This may require you to carry a mask with you, avoid going out on high pollen days, etc.


Following all of these steps can go a long way towards controlling asthma’s effect on your oral health and the resulting oral health risks.


Speak With Your Dentist For Help

If you’re worried that your asthma diagnosis is causing problems with your oral health, or if you’ve just recently received an asthma diagnosis, call your dentists. They can help you begin to take the right steps to ensure that your condition doesn’t come with added risks to your smile. Call and schedule a visit today to undergo an exam and receive a consultation. Your smile will thank you.

Dr. Karmen Massih Inspired by orthodontics at the age of 10, Dr. Karmen Massih earned her Doctor of Dental Medicine at UCLA's School of Dentistry. After earning her certificates in orthodontics at the University of Pittsburgh, she returned to her hometown of Glendale, CA, to begin Massih Orthodontics, a practice dedicated to transforming smiles for people of all ages.