About 1 in 13 people in the United States are affected by asthma. Approximately 20 million adults 18 and older suffer from asthma and nearly 6 million children are affected. Every year the number of people with this condition increases. Inhalation therapy is used to treat many who live with this respiratory illness. While the treatment is effective, precautions need to be taken to prevent it from affecting oral health.
Long term use of inhalers and high dosages can create oral problems such as increased risk for dental caries, gum disease, mouth sores and/or tooth erosion. With the proper oral care and regular visits to your dentist, you can minimize or eliminate these issues.
Causes of Inhaler-Related Oral Issues
Inhalation therapies often involve use of inhalers that contain ingredients that can cause dry mouth. This condition creates numerous oral health problems if left untreated. When saliva and saliva enzymes are reduced, your risk of developing dental caries increases.
Some corticosteroid inhalers have sugar-based medication, which can cause problems when it is not rinsed out of the mouth. Such inhalers can cause oral yeast infections or thrush to develop. This infection is also known as oral candidiasis. Some individuals will notice a change in their taste perception due to the interaction of drug metabolite (by products created when the drug is broken down in the mouth) and saliva.
Long-term use of short-acting beta-2 agonists (SABAs) has been linked to an increase in cavities. Medications such as albuterol, levalbuterol and metaproterenol are in this category. They are used for asthma, emphysema and COPD. Salivary flow can be decreased with use of these inhalers.
The reduction of natural moisture in the mouth creates an environment for harmful bacteria to thrive. Such an environment contributes to the development of cavities. The good news is, there are steps you can take to mitigate the problems caused by these inhalers.
Maintaining a Healthy Oral Environment
Inhalation therapy is a lifesaving treatment for those suffering from respiratory ailments and the problem caused by these inhalers does not need to be an issue if you follow these guidelines:
- Always follow a good oral hygiene routine, brush and floss your teeth at least twice a day. For extra precaution, it is advisable to brush your teeth after using your dry power inhaler.
- Be sure to rinse your mouth with water after using an inhaler.
- Sip on water throughout the day to help keep your mouth moist.
- Chew sugarless gum or suck on sugarless hard candies to stimulate your salivary glands.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol, as these intensify the drying effects.
- Rinse your mouth with alcohol-free mouthwash.
- Use saliva substitutes to help maintain moisture.
Regular visits to your dentist are very important in the fight against the issues caused by dry mouth. The dentist can recommend effective saliva substitutes and will help keep your teeth and gums healthy. At Jefferson Dental Care, we understand the discomfort of dry mouth and we can help you overcome it. Call us now to schedule your appointment.
Posted on behalf of Jefferson Dental Care