When people have chronic dry mouth, they are at greater risk for oral health problems. For this and other reasons, people with asthma need to be especially vigilant about maintaining their oral hygiene. We treat a lot of patients at the Oyster Bay Family Dentists whose oral health is compromised by limited saliva production (called xerostomia), so we wanted to provide asthma patients with some hygiene pointers.
Saliva is crucial to controlling oral microbes. It neutralizes acid, removes food debris, and contains enzymes that restrict the growth of bacteria and fungus. People with asthma commonly breathe through their mouths, particularly at night, causing them to be more vulnerable to microbial growth. This can cause them to have bad breath, tooth decay, and gum recession. Furthermore, asthma patients are often on medications that relax the sphincter separating the stomach from the esophagus, causing them to suffer from frequent acid reflux.
Asthma patients shouldn’t change medications without oversight from their doctor, but they should request changes when they are suffering recurrent dryness. We can assist them by prescribing stronger throat moisturizers, and they can stimulate additional saliva production by chewing sugar-free gum. Asthma patients should also brush their teeth at night after using inhalers, since inhaler medication often contains sugars which will be dispersed throughout the mouth.
Drs. Denise VeyVoda and Robert G. West operate The Oyster Bay Family Dentists at 123 South Street, Oyster Bay, New York, 11771. To schedule an appointment, call 516-922-5730 or visit Oyster Bay Dentists and fill out a contact sheet.