Adult Onset Asthma and Your Dental Health

Many adults living with asthma have been affected by the condition for most of their lives—having been diagnosed in childhood. But an asthma diagnosis is not limited to children. It's possible to develop asthma in adulthood, and this scenario is, rather logically, called adult-onset asthma. It takes a bit of trial and error when it comes to managing your condition, although this may only involve using an asthma inhaler as needed, depending on the severity of your asthma. However, perhaps surprisingly, asthma can pose a risk to your dental health. Like the condition itself, it's crucial that this risk is well-managed.

How Asthma Medication Affects Your Teeth

It's the medication inside the asthma inhaler itself that can lead to a few unexpected dental complications. As the vaporised medication is inhaled, your mouth can dry out as saliva production decreases. In addition to irrigating your mouth, saliva has buffering properties that help to prevent cariogenic bacteria (which has the potential to cause cavities) from accumulating on your teeth. Dry mouth (formally known as xerostomia) can lead to a greater prevalence of cavities, as well as cavities that can develop quicker than in someone with a healthy flow of saliva. Additionally, the composition of many inhaled asthma medications can be quite acidic, depositing a potentially damaging compound across your teeth. 

Keeping Your Teeth Healthy

Of course, you can't abstain from using your asthma medication, so you need to take steps to ensure that your teeth remain healthy.

  • As you're at a greater risk of developing cavities, it's essential that you attend your regular appointments with your dentist. This allows cavities to be spotted in their infancy, meaning any required treatment is far less invasive.
  • You need to maintain saliva flow. This can be achieved by staying hydrated and by chewing sugar-free gum. 
  • Be sure to rinse your mouth out after using your inhaler. To preserve your dental enamel, you should only clean your teeth 30 to 60 minutes after using your inhaler, which is the same period you should wait after eating.
  • Obtain an inhaler spacer. This is a small plastic tube—your inhaler is inserted at one end, and you inhale through the other. This directs the vaporised medication into your throat, meaning that less of it ends up on your teeth.

The effects that asthma medication can have on your teeth can be quite serious, but they're easily managed with a few simple precautions.

Contact a dentist for more information.