Breathe Easy and Avoid Tooth Decay
Asthma medications play a critical role in helping children manage their symptoms. But, as a parent, you should also realize that the same medications that help open your child’s airways—so he or she can breathe more freely—can also increase the chance your child will develop tooth decay.
Several studies examining children’s use of asthma medications have found an increased risk of caries (tooth decay). A study conducted in Saudi Arabia from 2010 to 2011 found that children with more severe asthma, those who used their medications more frequently (three or more times per day) and those who used combination therapy were more likely to have decreased levels of saliva and increased levels of bacteria associated with decay. A 2012 Slovenian study of 220 children between 2 and 17 years of age returned similar results, with medicated asthmatic children having significantly more decay in both baby teeth and permanent teeth, as well as decreased saliva production. More decay was seen in children who used higher doses of medication.
Saliva plays a key role in helping prevent tooth decay by neutralizing acids and washing away food particles that can feed harmful bacteria. In addition, many inhaled asthma medications contain lactose or other sugars that can promote bacterial growth.
Fortunately, there are easy solutions. If your child uses asthma medication, here are some things you can do to help lower his or her risk of decay:
- Have your child chew sugarless gum, drink water or rinse after using an inhaler; avoid brushing after each inhaler use since that can damage enamel.
- Ask us about using mouthwash if your child is old enough to use mouthwash without the risk of swallowing it.
- Ask your child’s physician about alternative medications that may be less harmful to teeth, including medications without lactose or other sugars.
- Let us know about your child’s asthma.
- Make sure your child sees us regularly.
If your child suffers from asthma, you already have lots of concerns about his or her health. Let Dr. Jared at KiDDS Dental know about your child’s asthma and we can evaluate the risk of tooth decay so you and your child have one less thing to worry about.
We'd love to meet you and your family! Give us a call at (509)-891-7070.