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A new study presented at the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden shows a link between children who have asthma and certain dental conditions. Researchers in the study concluded that children with asthma are at increased risk of more cavities and gingivitis than children who do not have asthma.
Cavities are areas of decay in teeth that cause holes in the hard surface of the teeth. Cavities can penetrate deeply into the tooth and cause pain in the mouth. Severe cases can result in the loss of one or more teeth and may result in the loss of all teeth and the need for dentures or dental implants. Cavities are typically caused by a combination of factors including not cleaning the teeth and sipping sugary drinks.
Gingivitis causes swelling and redness on the gums around the teeth. Mild gingivitis is very common and is easily treated with improvements in daily brushing and flossing. If untreated gingivitis can result in more serious gum disease that can eventually result in the loss of teeth.
Researchers in Sweden noted increased risks for both cavities and gingivitis in young patients during their study. They divided their study participants into three groups: children age 3, children ages 12-16 and young adults ages 18-24.
They started by studying the teeth of the 3-year-olds and determined that young children with asthma have more cavities than children of the same age who did not have asthma. They noted that children who have asthma are more likely to breathe through their mouths than other children. This makes their mouths dry which led to many being given sugary drinks more often. This may be an early trigger for the start of increased cavities in this group of children. The study then followed the same 3-year-olds to age 6. The trend continued with asthmatic children having more cavities than children their age who do not have asthma.
The next study group compared children age 12-16 with long-term asthma that was moderate to severe with children of the same age who did not have asthma.