If you have a child who suffers from allergies or asthma, you’re probably well aware of the layers of complexity these maladies can bring to your life and theirs. You’re likely unaware, though, as to how these illnesses, and the treatment of them, may affect your child’s oral health. Everything from an increased prevalence of cavities, to oral dryness, halitosis, gingivitis, and even TMJ disorders can be tied to these conditions. So, what’s the best course of action to keep your child healthy?
Let Your Dentist KnowIf this article applies to you, knowing you’ve got to help your kids pay extra attention to their mouth is only part of the solution. Ensuring their dental team is aware of their situation is also important. Doing so can prompt your dentist, hygienist or orthodontist to ask the right questions if you or your child mentions a particular symptom that might otherwise go undiagnosed as related. Don’t forget this step!
Awareness of the SymptomsFor many allergy and asthma sufferers, having a dry mouth is a leading cause of complications. Because saliva is literally the salve that protects our oral cavity from bad bacteria, the lack of it predisposes your child to more cavities, bad breath and gingivitis. A dry mouth may occur for two reasons: first, individuals with allergies and other breathing-related concerns are often mouth-breathers. Second, the oral medications and inhalers used to treat these breathing conditions tend to dry out the oral cavity even more. If you find that your child complains of a dry mouth, or you tend to notice your child has frequent bad breath, let your dental team know. Doing so might help prevent additional problems down the line.
What You Can Do at Home to Protect Your ChildrenMost importantly, think seriously about hydration. Water is not only good for our overall health, but the health of our mouth as well. So follow whichever guideline you prefer about how much liquid you child should be consuming, and which types, and be sure they remain hydrated. Also, consider these additional steps to keep their mouth moist.
- Always have them rinse with water after using their corticosteroid inhaler, and have them spit that water out once it’s been swished it around their teeth.
- Have your child use a spacer when using their inhaler. This allows the medication to enter their lungs more effectively, and prevents the medication from lingering in the mouth.
- Consider purchasing gum with Xylitol to help keep your kids’ mouth moist between meals. Such gums are sugar free and recommended by dentists to aid in the prevention of cavities. Plus they taste pretty darn good. Gum-chewing in general helps stimulate saliva flow, which as you now know is good for teeth!
- Ensure your children are extra-vigilant with their oral care. Because they’re prone to dry mouth, you’ll need to be sure they’re following through on all the habits you’ve heard about a million times: brush twice a day, floss once a day, and visit the dentist.