Asthma, Inhalers And Your Oral Health

Woman outside with a hand to her chest and breathing into an asthma inhaler.

Asthma is a long-term lung condition that causes inflammation and narrowing of the tubes that help you breathe. This makes breathing more difficult. While it usually begins in childhood, people of all ages can be affected by it.

If you have asthma, you probably use an inhaler as a treatment. Breathing in this medicine helps decrease mucus and reduce swelling in your airways. While the inhaler helps with your lungs it can also affect oral health. Here are a few things to look out for:

Oral Health Risks

  • Dry mouth: Because asthma restricts air flow, it is likely that you breathe through your mouth. This, along with the medication from the inhaler, can cause dryness in your mouth. A dry mouth makes it easier for bacteria to build up which increases your chances of bad breath, gum disease and tooth decay.
  • Tooth sensitivity: If your teeth ever feel achy after drinking an iced beverage, eating something sugary or having warm soup, you may be experiencing the sensation of hard tissue loss on your teeth—known as dental erosion. While this is a common oral condition, inhalers can increase the risk.
  • Sore throat: Some inhalers use a type of sugar which helps the medicine taste better. When you spray the inhaler daily (or several times a day), the sugar can create an overgrowth of bacteria in the throat. Your sore throat and/or white bumps are known as oral thrush.

4 Tips for Protecting Your Oral Health

Using an inhaler is important for your health and can save your life if you are having an asthma attack. But giving attention to your teeth, throat and tongue are important too. To help protect your oral and overall health, try these 4 tips:

  1. Rinse your mouth: Every time you use your inhaler, rinse your mouth. Even better, try to brush your teeth!
  2. Drink water: Staying hydrated will help your mouth from being dry and can remove the particles that can cause issues with your teeth and throat.
  3. Visit your dentist: Make sure you see your in-network dentist two times a year and let them know you have asthma. They can watch for any oral or overall health conditions resulting from asthma or your inhaler.
  4. Try a new asthma inhaler: If you find problems with your teeth, throat or tongue that are hard to manage, talk with your doctor. They may recommend a different kind of medication or inhaler that won’t put your oral health at risk.

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