Mouth Breather: How Respiratory Problems Can Affect Your Oral Health

It’s no surprise that when you have breathing problems, they can affect your oral health. Your mouth is, after all, right next to your throat; problems with breathing can sometimes be addressed by your dentist, and some medications you may take for breathing problems may affect your mouth. It’s worth noting that the shape of your mouth may also affect your breathing; if your jaw is misshapen, it can affect your intake of air.

Asthma, generally speaking, won’t affect your mouth; however, the treatments for asthma may cause oral side effects. Strong steroids can cause dry mouth, make you more likely to get yeast or other fungal infections and slow down the healing process for open mouth sores. Use a spacer with your inhaler, a plastic tube from which you can draw in; wash the spacer and rinse your mouth once you’re done to reduce the risk of yeast infections. When you have asthma or any other illness, it’s important to talk to your dentist about the drugs you are taking to treat the illness. Dentists may prescribe or administer drugs themselves, so it’s important they know about any contraindications involving other medicines you may be taking.

Snoring can be a pain for you and your partner; it can also be indicative of a potentially harmful sleep disorder known as sleep apnea. Sleep apnea comes in a few different forms, but the most common is obstructive sleep apnea; as your muscles relax when you fall asleep, your airway can become obstructed. When this occurs, your body is roused by your brain so the airways can reopen and you can breathe; these awakenings are so rapid that you don’t remember them the next morning. If you’re snoring, talk to your dentist; they may run diagnostics in which your sleeping patterns are observed. Should they note obstructive sleep apnea, they may recommend an oral appliance in conjunction with your physician; if they note non-apneic, they may be able to prescribe the appliance themselves.

While we wish we didn’t have to talk about tuberculosis (TB) here, it’s worth mentioning the disease. Canada has among the lowest rates of TB in the world, but with a growing number of multi-drug-resistant strains, vigilance is necessary. TB may result in enlarged lymph nodes in the neck or create a painful sore in your mouth. Due to the contagious nature of the disease, it’s advised that you don’t go visit your dentist while it’s active; go through medical treatment to get the TB under control first.

Your dentist can help with some respiratory illnesses, and can definitely help treat the symptoms which occur in your mouth. If you’re unsure what’s causing a sore or why your mouth is always so dry, visit your dentist. At Markham Dental Centre, we’re proud to have experienced dentists who can help you with all of your oral health needs.