No More Natural Teeth: Deciding Between Implants and Dentures

Asthma, Cavities, and Children: Is There a Connection?

by Jeremiah Barnett

Asthma and cavities are two common problems in children. Does this mean that there is a connection between the two? If so, then as a parent, what can you do to watch out for your child's oral health? Here's a look at the science behind the two to help you understand the potential connection.

Millions of Children Suffer from Asthma

Six million children suffer from asthma in the United States alone. The extent of the problem is so serious that scientists have though that asthma might be connected to poor oral health, especially cavities. This is because mouth breathing can cause cavities, and children with asthma are more likely to breathe through their mouths.

Breathing through the mouth means the mouth can't produce as much saliva as needed. This means the body can't naturally flush out the bacteria from the mouth, and this leads to bigger buildup and more dental problems.

More Sugars Can Lead to Tooth Decay

Scientists have also blamed nebulizers for a higher risk of tooth decay in asthma patients. They contain fructose (a type of sugar) to regulate breathing. This means children with asthma are likely to be exposed to more sugar than someone without asthma. More sugars lead to more plaque and bacteria buildup. These weaken the tooth enamel and result in tooth decay.

Studies Show No Link Between Asthma and Cavities

Indiana University School of Dentistry's Dr Gerardo Maupome states that there isn't a direct link between asthma and tooth decay. He and a team of researchers looked over 29 different papers published on the subject and found that the two largest studies showed that children with asthma had fewer cavities rather than more.

He believes that parents with children with asthma are more likely to take their children to dentists and doctors. His theory is that parents who have children with a medical disorder, such as asthma, are more likely to take their child to regular checkups, including dental checkups. Through the parents' taking children to doctors and dentists more often, early signs of tooth decay are spotted, and parents learn the ways bacteria will collect in the mouth.

Good Oral Hygiene Is Still Needed

While there is no direct link between asthma and cavities in children, this doesn't mean good oral hygiene isn't important. Children will still need to brush and floss regularly as well as visit a dentist. Parents will still need to supervise young children and help make children aware of the dangers of poor oral hygiene.

Scientists don't believe there is a connection between asthma and cavities in children. This could be due to care by parents, but that doesn't mean that children with asthma don't ever have poor oral hygiene. This is especially the case when nebulizers are in use.