Inhaled medications, such as corticosteroids, can do wonders for managing the symptoms of asthma and allergies. However, you do need to make sure you're using these inhalers properly and taking a few precautions to ensure they don't cause any damage to your teeth and gums. Here are some important precautions to take.
Rinse your mouth after use.
If you read your inhaler's instructions, there's a good chance they tell you to rinse your mouth out with water after you use the inhaler. However, many users skip this step, especially if they don't detect a bad taste in their mouth after using the inhaler. This is a mistake, since the medication in the inhaler may be slightly acidic and could cause damage to your teeth if left on them for too long. The medication may also dry your mouth out, which increases your risk of gum disease and tooth decay. So, when possible, take your inhaler with a glass full of water nearby, and give your mouth a good rinse afterwards. It's not a bad idea to swish around and spit out a few mouthfuls rather than just one.
Brush your teeth after using the inhaler.
Some inhaled medications are meant to be used before bedtime. But this does not mean taking the medication should be the last thing you do before bed. If you inhale your medication and then go to bed right away, any lingering bits of the medication will remain on your teeth and gums all night. So, take your inhaler before you brush your teeth at night. If you use the inhaler first thing in the morning, it's good to do so before your morning tooth-brushing session.
Keep an eye out for symptoms of dry mouth.
Many asthma and allergy medications cause dry mouth as a side effect, and not just when they have direct contact with your oral tissues. By reducing mucous production (in order to fight allergy symptoms) they often reduce saliva production as well. Signs of dry mouth include:
- A cottony feeling in the mouth
- The need to sip water when eating foods like pretzels and bread
- Constant cracking of your lips and the corners of the mouth
A dentist at an organization such as Northwest Dental Services and Implant Center can prescribe a special rinse or toothpaste to boost saliva production and keep your mouth moist, so contact him or her if you think your inhaler is causing dry mouth. Otherwise, tooth decay and gum disease can set in rather quickly.