Asthma Has a Role in Dental Health

Published Online: Thursday, April 1, 2004

Published reports have indicated that asthma and tooth decay are among the major causes of school absenteeism in the United States. Children with asthma have a significantly higher rate of decayed, missing, and filled teeth, in the primary and permanent teeth. Adults and children with asthma may require a more aggressive dental-caries?prevention protocol, once asthma is diagnosed. Individuals with asthma may be more susceptible to the following oral-health changes:

  • Increased rate of caries development due to prolonged use of beta2 agonist inhalers and asthma medications that contain sugar
  • Reduced salivary flow because of inhaler use
  • Increased likelihood of oral tissue changes
  • Increased levels of gingivitis and gum disease

Dental experts have issued the following tips for proper dental care for asthmatics:

  • Make frequent dental visits to prevent gum disease and cavities
  • Take caries-prevention measures by following a good home care routine
  • Update the dentist about changes in medications, date of last asthma attack, last emergency room visit because of asthmatic complications, and factors that cause an asthmatic reaction
  • Take preoperative medications, and bring the medications to the dentist's office

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