Asthma is a common problem that affects many people. A Brazilian study has highlighted the need for people with asthma to pay close attention to their dental health. The study found a strong link between asthma and gum disease or periodontal disease after analyzing 21 research papers which were published over thirty-eight years, and which looked at links between gum disease and asthma.
Researchers concluded that people with asthma were nearly 20% more likely to have gum disease compared to people who do not have asthma. The reason for this connection isn’t yet clear but it does highlight the need for asthma sufferers to be vigilant about their oral health and to be aware of any possible changes.
Protecting Your Dental Health If You Have Asthma
If you do have asthma, then you’re more at risk of developing a condition called dry mouth because people with asthma are more likely to breathe through their mouth. The medication in inhalers can also contribute towards a dry mouth. With a dry mouth, there is insufficient saliva to help wash away harmful bacteria so your risk of developing gum disease is higher, alongside the risk of tooth decay and bad breath.
There are several easy ways you can help protect your oral health when you have asthma. After using your inhaler then try to remember to rinse your mouth with water, or even better brush your teeth. Make sure you remain well hydrated as this will help to reduce the effects of dry mouth. Cut back on sugary or carbohydrate-rich foods and drinks as these foods allow bacteria to thrive.
You should also talk to your dentist about your problems with asthma and make sure they know which type of inhaler you’ve been prescribed. They may be able to recommend additional strategies to help improve your dental health. These strategies may include more frequent cleanings or fluoride treatments, or advice on brushing and flossing.
Often people with asthma will have other allergies which can frequently leave them with a stuffy nose. If these problems affect you talk to your doctor or dentist about possible treatment options. The more easily you can breathe through your nose, the greater the chances you have of maintaining good oral health. Above all, make sure you visit your dentist regularly so that any signs of gum disease or periodontal disease can be quickly detected and treated.
What Is Periodontal Disease?
More commonly known as gum disease, periodontal disease is a potentially very serious condition that frequently develops as a result of poor oral hygiene. It’s a bacterial infection that initially develops in the gums before spreading to other tissues surrounding your teeth and which include bone and ligaments. Gum disease is the most common reason for tooth loss and it’s an insidious disease because the early symptoms are easily overlooked.
This is why it’s important to visit a general dentist for regular checkups and to see a periodontist if you have developed periodontal disease.
How Does It Develop?
When you fail to brush and floss regularly, bacteria in your mouth will multiply and thrive. This prompts an immunological response from your body as it tries to fight the resulting infection. As your body fights the disease, it causes your gums to become inflamed and red. Alongside gums that bleed easily during brushing and flossing, this is one of the earliest symptoms of gum disease.
At the same time, your gums may begin to feel sore or tender, especially if you lightly press them and they can look puffy. These early symptoms are known as gingivitis.
How Is Gingivitis Treated?
The good news about gingivitis is that it’s completely reversible with prompt professional dental care. At this early stage, treatment may be as simple and straightforward. Having your teeth professionally cleaned by your hygienist because this will remove the bacterial buildup in the form of plaque and tartar. As gingivitis often develops due to poor oral care, your hygienist may well offer useful advice and practical help.
They can easily identify areas of your oral health that could do with some improvement. Provided you adhere to their advice and maintain a good standard of oral care, your gingivitis should completely clear up leaving you with a beautiful healthy mouth. It’s a different story if you ignore their advice or failed to seek dental help at all, in which case the chances of your gingivitis developing into periodontitis are greatly increased.
Why Is Periodontitis a Potentially Serious Problem?
Periodontitis is a completely different beast as it can cause serious and irreversible damage to your gums and jawbone. As the disease develops, it gradually eats away at the bone surrounding your teeth so they eventually become loose and cannot be saved. Your gums will begin to bleed more readily and you may notice you develop deep pockets or gaps in between your gums and teeth as the gums begin to pull away from your teeth.
Alongside bleeding gums, these gaps or pockets allow bacteria in your mouth to easily get into your body where they can cause more inflammation. This is in much the same way they caused inflammation in your gums. This can potentially negatively impact your general health. In addition to being connected to asthma, periodontitis has been associated with other serious health conditions.
This includes respiratory diseases, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, some cancers and with rheumatoid arthritis.
Avoiding Gum Disease
Even if you do have asthma, with the proper dental care you can avoid gum disease. Make sure you visit your dentist regularly for checkups and professional cleanings. Ensure they know your medical history, including any problems with asthma or allergies that could affect your dental health. They can suggest suitable coping strategies and will develop a treatment plan specifically to suit your dental needs and which will help you gain and maintain good oral health.
In between your six-monthly visits, make sure you brush your teeth at least twice a day or more frequently if you can and floss at least once a day. If your dentist does find any signs of gum disease during one of your checkups, they can suggest the most suitable treatment options. Or in the case of advanced gum disease or periodontitis, they may refer you to a periodontist.