Dental Dose: Take precautions for patients with asthma

By Theresa Pablos, DrBicuspid.com editor in chief

April 1, 2022 -- Dental Dose is a twice-monthly video series featuring pharmacologist Tom Viola, RPh. In each episode, Viola shares bite-sized pieces of dental pharmacology news, facts, and myths.

Dental Dose addresses two facets of dental pharmacology: medications used in dentistry with systemic effects and medications used for nondental conditions that impact dentistry. Treating patients with asthma tackles both sides of dental pharmacology, explained Tom Viola in the latest episode.

Short- and long-acting medications used to treat and manage asthma can have important side effects that dental professionals should be aware of, including xerostomia, tooth decay, tachycardia, and increased risk of infection. More so, many asthma medications are delivered by an inhaler, which means the medicine first travels through the mouth.

"The hardest part is using an inhaler correctly," Viola said. "You end up with a lot of medication not necessarily in your lungs, but in your mouth."

Further, patients with asthma may be more sensitive to commonly used dental drugs and procedures. These patients tend to be more sensitive to the effects of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and sulfites, a preservative found in local anesthetics that contain epinephrine.

"Anything that generates an aerosol, well, that can trigger an asthma attack for patients who are somewhat sensitive to particles in the area," Viola added.

Viola recommended that dentists ask patients to bring in their inhaler with short-acting asthma medication and to keep it close at hand during their visit. See more tips and considerations for patients with asthma in the video below.

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Have a topic suggestion for Dental Dose? We'd love to hear it. Send your ideas to Theresa Pablos.


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