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If you have a respiratory condition, make sure that your dentist always has an up-to-date list of all the medicines you take. The list should be neatly written or typed. It should include prescription drugs and over-the-counter medicines such as antacids. It also should include vitamins, herbal pills and other nutritional supplements. Your list should provide the name of each drug, the dosage, how often you take it and when your physician prescribed it. Put the date that you made the list at the top of the page. This will let the dentist know that it is a current list.


Oral Effects

Many drugs used to treat asthma have effects on the mouth and throat. Strong anti-inflammatory medicines (corticosteroids) can cause dry mouth. They also can make you more likely to get fungal (yeast) infections in your mouth. Finally, these drugs can slow the healing process. If you use an inhaler that contains steroids, make sure to use a spacer. This is a plastic tube that attaches to the inhaler. It holds the dose while you inhale. Rinse your mouth with water afterward and spit it out. This helps to decrease the chance of getting a yeast infection in your mouth.

The Intal inhaler (cromolyn) can cause:

  • Nausea
  • Cough
  • A bad taste in your mouth
  • An irritated mouth or throat

At the Dentist

Bring your inhaler to all your appointments. Also bring a list of the drugs that you take. Tell your dentist about:

  • Your latest asthma attack
  • How often you have asthma attacks
  • What triggers your attacks
  • The severity of your asthma
  • Any asthma-related hospital visits, including trips to the emergency room

Your adrenal glands normally produce hormones that help you and your body respond to stress. When you take steroids, these glands may not work as well. As a result, your body may be less able to respond to stress. Rarely, this can cause serious problems during dental visits. Be sure to tell your dentist if you have been taking steroids for more than two weeks. You may need more steroid treatment before you receive dental care.

Some asthma drugs, such as theophylline and the Singulair (zafirlukast) inhaler, interact with medicines that your dentist may prescribe. Make sure your dentist knows which drugs you are taking and the dosage of each drug.

The use of inhalers does not appear to be associated with an increase in dental cavities in children.


Oral Effects

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) does not affect the mouth and teeth. Some people with COPD are often sick with colds or other upper respiratory infections. Some people with COPD may use steroids for long periods of time. This can make them more likely to get fungal (yeast) infections in their mouths. Dentists call this type of infection candidiasis, or thrush.

At the Dentist

The same precautions previously mentioned for steroid use with asthma when visiting the dentist apply here. Make sure your dentist knows which drugs you are taking and the dosage of each drug.

The way you sit in the dental chair may affect your breathing. Work with your dentist to get comfortable in the chair. If you need oxygen during an appointment, your dentist should have it for you. If you use oxygen at home, bring your portable oxygen tank to the dental office and make sure it is full.


Oral Effects

If you have tuberculosis, you may have large lymph nodes in your neck. Rarely, you may have a painful sore in your mouth.

At the Dentist

If you have active tuberculosis, you could spread it to other people in the dental office. You should not visit your dentist. If you need emergency dental care, visit a hospital.

If your tuberculosis is inactive, you can visit your dentist. A test called a saliva or "sputum" culture will show if your tuberculosis is active or not.


Oral Effects

A sinus infection can cause pain in the upper teeth. This can make you think you have a dental problem. If you have sinusitis, more than one tooth on the same side of your mouth may ache.

Drugs to treat sinusitis, such as antihistamines, can cause dry mouth. This can increase your risk of tooth decay and yeast infections in your mouth. Breathing through your mouth can dry out your mouth, too.

At the Dentist

No special considerations are needed for people with sinusitis. Tell your dentist the medicines you are taking. Some people with chronic sinusitis have taken antibiotics for several weeks at a time. If this has happened to you, tell your dentist. It's possible for bacteria to become resistant to certain antibiotics. If you need an antibiotic, your dentist may need to change the dose or type. Your dentist may refer you to your primary health care provider for treatment of your sinusitis.


The SARS-COV-2 severe acute respiratory syndrome associated with the coronavirus pandemic resulted in widespread infection and unprecedented death rates across the globe. It is predominantly spread through respiratory droplet/contact. If one has a positive COVID-19 test, all but emergent dental care should be postponed for 10-14 days from the onset of symptoms. If the situation is a dental emergency, the patient must notify the dentist of their infection status in advance. Dental offices are taking the recommended precautions laid out by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Dental Association (ADA) to mitigate the potential spread of the virus.


Last updated June 30, 2021



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