Asthma awareness – why it matters!

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  Posted by: Dental Design      12th April 2022

May is Asthma Awareness Month – a period dedicated to spreading understanding about the condition and supporting those who have it. Although people are likely to be familiar with the term asthma, many underestimate just how serious it can be.

So, how prevalent is asthma and how can this condition impact how people receive dental treatment and care?

A common condition

Asthma is a major non-communicable disease that impacts both children and adults. The condition causes inflammation and narrowing of the small airways in the lungs, resulting in shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, and, in severe attacks, the inability to breathe at all.[i]

In the UK, over 8 million people have been diagnosed with asthma. However, as it is a condition that some people do grow out of, it’s estimated that out of these 8 million, only around 5.4 million people are seeking asthma treatment. This suggests that anywhere between 8-12% of the UK population have the disease.[ii]

Despite being such a widespread condition, there are still many misconceptions surrounding asthma and how it impacts the people who live with it. While minor asthma attacks are easily treated, asthma still claims the lives of thousands each year, with roughly three people dying from an asthma attack every day.[iii] Worryingly, these figures are likely to have been even higher in recent years, especially as research surrounding Coronavirus has suggested that individuals with asthma may be at a higher risk of developing a more severe form of the disease.[iv] Regardless of any additional challenges the pandemic has brought, data suggests that the NHS spends around £1 billion on caring for people with asthma every year.[v]

Asthma and oral health 

Interestingly, those living with asthma may be at risk of having poorer oral health for a number of reasons. Asthma, which primarily affects breathing, may lead to people experiencing dry mouth simply through excessive mouth breathing. This reduces salivary flow, leaving teeth more prone to decay as there is no longer any saliva present to help neutralise acid attacks. This problem is further compounded by the fact that some asthma medicines have been identified as inhibiting salivary flow, as well as having links to increased risks of oral candidiasis, periodontal disease and dental erosion.[vi]


In light of this, dental hygienists and dental therapists can offer individuals with asthma a number of helpful tips on how to keep on top of their oral health. It may be worthwhile to schedule more regular appointments with these individuals, as well as instructing them on how to overcome dry mouth with regular hydration.


As professionals, we also need to consider the triggers that can set off asthma attacks when treating patients. Cleaning products, disinfectants and scented sprays have all been identified as setting off asthma attacks,[vii]meaning that when we know we are treating patients with asthma, it is a smart idea to ensure windows are open if possible to ensure better ventilation.

A safer future for asthmatics

Asthma is a common disease but can still be debilitating for those who have it. By teaching asthmatic individuals about how to keep on top of their oral health and ensuring that you and those you work with are aware of asthma and how it impacts people’s lives, we can make a significant difference.


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[i] WHO. Asthma – Key facts. Link:,of%20breath%20and%20chest%20tightness. [Last accessed February 22].

[ii] NICE – National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. What Is The Prevalence of Asthma? Link: [Last accessed February 22].

[iii] Asthma UK. Asthma Facts and Statistics. Link: [ Last accessed February 22].

[iv] Asthma UK. Coronavirus – what Should People With Asthma Do? Link: [Last accessed February 22].

[v] Asthma UK. Asthma Facts and Statistics. Link: [ Last accessed February 22].

[vi] Thomas, M. et al. Asthma and Oral Health: A Review. Aust Dent J. 2010 Jun;55(2):128-33. doi: 10.1111/j.1834-7819.2010.01226.x.

[vii] CDC. Common Asthma Triggers. Link: [Last accessed February 22].

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