Asthma Medicines Increase the Risk of Cavities

asthma and cavities sm

Did you know that your child’s asthma medicine can weaken healthy enamel, making teeth vulnerable to dental disease?

“Caries” is the term that dentists use to describe dental disease. You and I call them cavities. A study in the Journal of Clinical Pediatric Dentistry concluded that “asthmatic children had a high caries prevalence [that] increased with the severity of bronchial asthma [and] was highest in those taking medication in the form of syrup.”

My granddaughter suffers from asthma. She began taking albuterol syrup when she was about 6 months old. She began nebulizer (inhaled) treatments at 2. Until this year, dental visits showed nothing unusual. Now she’s 5 and getting her first permanent teeth. Her pediatric dentist found many cavities, and recommended two root canals and crowns. Shocked, we wondered why we hadn’t heard from a consulting pediatric dentist, not even her regular dentist or pediatrician, that asthma medicines may increase cavities in young children.

Since 2001, dental researchers have carried out several studies searching for a link between asthma and cavities with varying results. While the dental community decides where it stands on this issue, here are some practical things you can do to help protect your child against dental decay:

If your child drinks bottled water, substitute bottled water fortified with fluoride. Fluoride strengthens tooth enamel, which is why the Center for Disease Control (CDC) says fluoridated water is one of the ten greatest medical advances of the 20th century. The CDC credits fluoridated water with significantly reducing cavities in children who drink treated water. Since February 2011, the City of San Diego (including Coronado, Del Mar and Imperial Beach) has provided fluoridated drinking water.

Rinse your child’s mouth out after each nebulizer treatment, or, for older children, after using an inhaler. Asthma medicine may weaken tooth enamel, giving bacteria places to flourish. Rinse the nebulizer mask out after every use, too. Keep it as fresh as you can to eliminate medicine buildup that may increase the problem.

Keep the mouth hydrated with water or ice chips, not sugary drinks. Dry mouth, a side effect of some asthma medications, can ripen conditions for the bacteria that cause cavities. Ask your dentist about dry mouth medicines and whether they are appropriate for young children.

Ask your dentist about topical fluoride treatments and sealants. Use fluoride toothpaste beginning at the earliest possible age. Ask your dentist about prescription topical fluoride paste that your child can apply each evening after brushing. Use an over-the-counter fluoride mouthwash that is specifically formulated for children.

Tell your dentist that your child has asthma. Be persistent. Make sure she is aware of the potential risks and can monitor and modify your child’s treatment plan where necessary. 

---------------------------------
Patricia Douglas is a freelance writer, mother of three and grandmother of five. She currently lives with her son and her 5-year-old granddaughter who suffers from asthma and a plethora of allergies.

Little Kids in Weddings: Tips for ring bearers and flower girls

Little Kids in Weddings: Tips for ring bearers and flower girls

My first memory: I’m 3, wearing the prettiest, fluffiest dress in the whole world. I’m holding hands with a yucky boy and carrying a wicker basket full of flowers. I’m beaming with anxious joy . . .

Read more

Tips to Foster a Child's Love of Reading

Tips to Foster a Child's Love of Reading

Get your child involved in books and foster a lifelong love of reading. Here are tips from PBS Kids:  Visit the local library often. Get kids their own library card. Attend storytimes a . . .

Read more

Silly Songs to Get Chores Done

Silly Songs to Get Chores Done

Sing it Clean: 8 Silly Songs to Get Chores DoneMotivating a preschooler to clean up can be as frustrating as herding cats. Instead of sending your toddler into a tailspin when playtime is over, enco . . .

Read more

Teach Math and Science to Preschoolers

Teach Math and Science to Preschoolers

What is the right age to start learning about math and science? You may be surprised to learn that your preschooler is ready to be introduced to more than rote counting and discussing the . . .

Read more

7 Tips for Dealing with Picky Eaters

7 Tips for Dealing with Picky Eaters

I don’t like Brussels spouts. Why does broccoli look like trees? Vegetables make me throw up. Why can’t we just order McDonald’s?We’ve all heard these phrases or something similar uttered by . . .

Read more

What Parents Should Know about Children's Oral Health Care

What Parents Should Know about Children's Oral Health Care

Like many areas of the body, a person’s mouth is teeming with bacteria, most of them harmless. Normally the body’s natural defenses and good oral health care, such as daily brushing and flossing . . .

Read more

How to Make the Most of the First Day of Preschool

How to Make the Most of the First Day of Preschool

My husband and I tried to prep our 3-year-old son Dylan, the best we could for his first day of preschool. We told him he’d be meeting all sorts of new people and making a bunch of new friends. “W . . .

Read more

Toys Your Child Can Learn and Play With

Toys Your Child Can Learn and Play With

Every parent knows that children learn most by playing. Through play, children learn how to explore their lives, peers and surroundings, how things work and the difference between success and failur . . .

Read more

10 Ideas to Help Children Read Outside of the Classroom

10 Ideas to Help Children Read Outside of the Classroom

“Learning how to read should not be confined to the classroom,” said Amy Jo Dowd, Ph.D., education research advisor for Save the Children.  “There are many fun ways that parents, communit . . .

Read more

How to Fund Your Child's Education

How to Fund Your Child's Education

While most of us realize that we will need to save money for our children’s college educations, we may need to figure out how to start funding our children’s education quite a few years earlier . . .

Read more

Make Play a Priority

Make Play a Priority

You’ve heard it time and time again, “The first five years of a child’s life are the most critical to their development.” This idea is not anything new, but recent research shows just how much . . .

Read more

8 Questions to Ask Yourself When Purchasing Holiday Toys

8 Questions to Ask Yourself When Purchasing Holiday Toys

Pediatric occupational therapists say items that focus on motor skill development, cognitive learning provide best value when it comes to kids The holiday season provides the opportunity to unabashed . . .

Read more

Asthma Medicines Increase the Risk of Cavities

Asthma Medicines Increase the Risk of Cavities

Did you know that your child’s asthma medicine can weaken healthy enamel, making teeth vulnerable to dental disease? “Caries” is the term that dentists use to describe dental disease. You an . . .

Read more

How to Make Reading Irresisitable to Boys

How to Make Reading Irresisitable to Boys

I want my son to love books, so I began reading to him when he was tiny. Despair descended when, at 6 months old, he was more interested in eating books than reading them. But I wiped off the drool . . .

Read more

How to Help Your Kindergartener Make a Smooth Transition into School

How to Help Your Kindergartener Make a Smooth Transition into School

Help your kindergartener score a smoother transition into school. Kicking Off Kindergarten For many parents, kindergarten signals a major milestone from the all-consuming baby and toddler years. . . .

Read more

The Privileges System for Children

The Privileges System for Children

It is possible to raise kind, well-mannered children with no yelling, no spanking, and no time-outs. When I created the Privileges System three years ago, my daughter needed boundaries… fast. I al . . .

Read more

Dental Drama

Dental Drama

Each night at my house there’s a show after dinner. I call it the dental drama. As I approach my son’s mouth with the toothbrush, he closes it tight. I ply him with sparkly, watermelon-flavored . . .

Read more

Traveling with Food Allergies

Traveling with Food Allergies

Traveling can be extremely stressful for the 12 million Americans with food allergies and 3 million with celiac disease. In fact, most people with food allergies and sensitivities list traveling and . . .

Read more

8 Tips On Encouraging Your Kids To Be Close

8 Tips On Encouraging Your Kids To Be Close

Friendly Siblings–what’s the secret? We’ve all dreamed of them. Many of us have actually seen them. But how do we actually raise them? I’m talking about siblings who get along, those myster . . .

Read more

Feeling Sick at Night

Feeling Sick at Night

Do symptoms get worse for kids at night? Why is it that your 5-year-old’s fever, congestion, and pain suddenly worsen at nightfall when the pediatrician’s office is closed? Is it simply a matt . . .

Read more

San Diego Family Magazine Logo

Be Family Informed – Sign up for our Newsletters below!