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Dental Challenge for Asthmatic Children

Aug 17, 2007
A 1998 study by researchers at The Ohio State University indicates that one-third of asthmatic children between the ages of six and 18 have some kind of adverse reaction after a trip to the dentist. About 15 percent suffer temporary reduced lung function.

Although it is not clear what causes the reaction, it has been suggested that allergens such as cotton swabs or water vapor at the dental office could be a cause. The stress often associated with a dental visit has been ruled out as a factor.

Researchers measured the volume of air in the lungs by having the asthmatic children blow into a machine called a spirometer. Readings were taken before, immediately after, and 30 minutes after treatment. Any reactions during the examination were also noted.
Most of the symptoms were mild reactions such as coughing and congestion. However, almost seven percent of the monitored patients had difficulty breathing 30 minutes after being in the dental office. Amazingly, some of their symptoms did not appear until three days later.

Dental professionals are trained to develop preventive protocols in the dental office and to recognize the early signs of an asthma attack. The reason? In 1998, the number of asthma sufferers in the United States was an estimated 17.3 million according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 4.8 million of those are children. It makes sense to prepare for what could be a frequent occurrence in our office.

The researchers suggest that one puff on an inhaler before entering the office could be all it takes to avoid unnecessary suffering. For your own peace of mind, it might be wise to talk to your physician about the possibility of a reaction before your asthmatic child visits our office.

Poor Dental Health:

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry reported an interesting discovery in 1998. British researchers tested asthmatic children (ages four to 16) to see if they showed preponderance to dental diseases. Results clearly showed asthmatic children suffered significantly from plaque and gingivitis, having poorer gum health and a greater loss of tooth surfaces compared with non-asthmatic children.

One explanation could be that certain drugs used to treat asthma are causing harm to teeth. The Department of Paediatric Dentistry at Leeds Dental Institute tested acidity levels of some of the main asthmatic drugs. Researchers found the powdered varieties were acidic enough to erode tooth enamel.

Further testing will be required to determine if this is the main cause of dental diseases in asthmatic children. Until proven, researchers suggest removing any trace by rinsing the mouth with water after taking a powdered asthma drug.
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