You probably know the importance of disclosing any existing or newly diagnosed medical conditions to your dentist. Seemingly unrelated conditions can affect your oral health, and your dentist needs to be sure that any proposed forms of dental treatment aren't in conflict with any treatment that might be in use for the medical condition in question. The same applies to your child. Most children diagnosed with asthma display symptoms by the age of five, with a conclusive diagnosis following shortly afterwards. A diagnosis of asthma must be shared with your child's pediatric dentistry provider. But does asthma actually affect your child's dental health?
The primary concern with asthma as it relates to your child's teeth is dry mouth. Depending on the severity of your child's asthma, restricted airflow can result in breathing principally through their mouth. This can deplete their saliva flow, which dries out their mouth. Common asthma treatments (such as using a prescription inhaler) can worsen dry mouth.
An Irrigation System
Saliva is the mouth's irrigation system. It flushes both visible food particles and sugary residue from the teeth and into the stomach. Saliva provides dental enamel with calcium, phosphate, and fluoride, which is critical for protecting dental enamel from the formation of cavities. It's also crucial in maintaining the mouth's pH balance, helping to keep harmful bacteria at manageable levels. In short, a mouth with reduced saliva is a mouth with teeth that can be far more vulnerable to decay.
Tell Your Child's Dentist
Your child's pediatric dentist must be informed when your child has been diagnosed with asthma. The diagnosis might not lead to any direct action, but your child's dentist will be vigilant to offset the destructive effects of dry mouth. You might be encouraged to ensure that your child maintains an appropriate level of water intake in order to stimulate saliva production. In extreme cases, medication to promote saliva production can be recommended. Your child's dentist may also recommend the application of a sealant, which is a thin protective coat of resin applied to your child's teeth, protecting dental enamel and preventing it from drying out.
A diagnosis of asthma shouldn't be disastrous to your child's dental health, but it's important to be aware that it can easily contribute to dry mouth, meaning that certain preemptive measures might be in your child's best interests. Learning the best habits to offset dry mouth will benefit your child now and into adulthood as well.