If you or a loved one suffers from allergies or asthma, you’re well aware of the layers of complexity these maladies can bring to your life. You’re likely unaware, though, as to how these illnesses, and the treatment of them, may affect your oral health. Everything from an increased prevalence of cavities, to oral dryness, halitosis, gingivitis, and even TMJ disorders can be tied to these conditions, so what’s the best course of action to keep yourself and your family healthy?
Let Your Dentist KnowIf this article applies to you, knowing you’ve got to pay extra attention to your mouth is only part of the solution. Ensuring your dental care team is aware is also important. Keeping them in the loop can prompt them to ask the right questions should you ask about a particular symptom that might otherwise go undiagnosed as related, so don’t forget this step!
Awareness of the SymptomsFor many allergy and asthma sufferers, a dry mouth is often the cause of complications that arise, so be aware of this initial symptom. Because saliva is literally the salve that protects your oral cavity from bacterial warfare, the lack of it predisposes you to more cavities, bad breath and gingivitis. A dry mouth may occur for two reasons: first, individuals with allergies and other breathing related concerns are often mouth-breathers. Second, the oral medications and inhalers used to treat these breathing conditions tend to dry out the oral cavity even more than mouth breathing alone. So if you notice you’re sporting a drier than usual dry mouth, let your dental team know about it. Doing so might help prevent additional problems down the line.
What You Can Do at Home to Protect YourselfMost importantly, think seriously about hydration. Water is not only good for your overall health, but the health of your mouth. So follow whichever guideline you prefer about how much liquid you should be consuming, and which types. Also, consider these additional steps to keep that mouth of yours moist:
- Always rinse your mouth with water after using your corticosteroid inhaler, and spit it out once you’ve swished it around your teeth.
- Use a spacer when using your inhaler. This allows the medication to enter your lungs more effectively, and prevents the medication from lingering in your mouth.
- Consider chewing a gum with Xylitol to help keep your mouth moist between meals. Such gums are sugar free and recommended by dentists to aid in the prevention of cavities. Plus they taste pretty darn good. Gum-chewing in general helps stimulate saliva flow, which as you now know, is good for your teeth!
- Be extra-vigilant with your oral care. Because you’re prone to dry mouth, you’ll want to pay special attention to all of the recommended habits you’ve heard about a million times. Brush twice a day, floss once a day, and visit your dentist.