Asthma could affect more than just your respiratory system, a new study finds. Oral disease may also be more prevalent in those who suffer from asthma. Children, adolescents and even young adults with asthma may want to start planning extra dental care and establishing a frequent oral health routine to help prevent heightened dental decay and gum disease.
Study Finds Asthma Affects Likelihood of Cavities
Children with asthma have a greater likelihood of experiencing cavities and gingivitis (gum disease) than children their own age without asthma, according to the study by the Sahlgrenska Academy in Sweden. In fact, the study found that asthma can have effects on the dental health of adolescents and young adults as well. The study focused on people both with and without asthma in four age groups: ages 3, 6, 12-16 and 18-24. Those with asthma had been diagnosed by a specialist to maintain the accuracy of the study.
Across the board, participants with asthma had more cavities. In the adolescent group, 19 out of 20 with asthma had cavities, but in the group that did not have asthma, only 7 out of 20 people had cavities. Researchers noted that even though the study groups were somewhat small, results were consistent, and all the participants came from an area with relatively good oral health.
What is the Link Between Asthma and Dental Cavities?
There are a few reasons why those with asthma are more likely to develop cavities or gum disease:
- Asthmatics tend to breathe through their mouths. This can dry out the mouth, causing xerostomia. Saliva washes out the mouth and helps clean the teeth, and if there is not enough saliva, bacteria can grow more easily. In addition, children with dry mouths are typically given a higher quantity of sugary drinks, which can linger on the teeth and lead to cavities as well. Read more about dry mouth in Bad Breath 101 – An Interview With Dr. Katz.
- Asthma treatment can also cause the mouth to become dry, leading to both cavities and gingivitis. Xerostomia is a common side effect. Read more about how you can prevent this in Cheap Dental Solutions for Dry Mouth Syndrome.
Researchers suggested that in light of these results, health-care providers and dental professionals may want to collaborate to create specialized preventive programs to help asthma patients maintain proper oral health.