For some people, inhalers are a part of everyday life. Maybe you live with a condition like asthma, making the use of a handy medicine dispenser a regular occurrence for you. You’re probably aware of how to care for your inhaler. But what about your oral health? Did you know that inhalers are known for causing a condition in your mouth called oral thrush?
That’s right. Improper inhaler technique can lead to a yeast infection in your mouth, which sounds about as appealing as “oral thrush,” also called “oral candidiasis.” Symptoms of a yeast infection in your mouth include things like an unpleasant taste or even the loss of taste altogether, a burning sensation, redness inside, and even white patches.
If you think you might have any of these symptoms, seek out your dentist as soon as possible to prevent the infection from spreading elsewhere. If caught early, treatment of the condition is usually quick and easy. And don’t worry, it’s not contagious.
How Does Using an Inhaler Lead to Oral Thrush?
Your inhaler is used to deliver a corticosteroid into your lungs via air flow through your mouth. While we’d like to imagine all the medicine goes straight to where it’s needed most, it is possible that some gets left behind. A portion of the corticosteroid can remain in your mouth on places like your tongue, cheeks, or even between your teeth.
If the medicine stays in these places for too long, you can develop a yeast infection in your mouth. The good news is that preventing oral thrush from your inhaler is pretty easy. Here are 4 things that will help:
Rinse your mouth after using an inhaler
This simple maneuver of sipping water after use can significantly decrease your risk of developing oral thrush. Flush out remaining medicine and clean away any residue left behind. Water cleanses the mouth and stimulates salivation, which is good for protecting your teeth.
Consider a spacer
Asthma spacers are designed to assist with the application of medicine in two ways. First, they “improve hand-breath coordination.” Some users have trouble limiting their inhalation capacity or not holding their breath long enough for the medicine to work. The spacer makes this easier. Secondly, it reduces the amount of medicine deposited into the mouth.
Brush and floss regularly
Know the best way to keep unwanted debris, whether food or medicine, from getting stuck in teeth and turning into a dental issue? Routinely brush your teeth twice a day and floss at least once per day. This will ensure that there’s no plaque or other debris left to cause problems.
Visit your dentist
A trip to the dentist is about more than X-rays and cleanings. Your dentist can detect other problems like an oral thrush infection or even cancers and other concerning issues. By taking a close look in your mouth during an appointment, your dentist can become familiar with your oral health. Routine visits allow them to notice any changes or potentially harmful developments.
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