COLUMBUS, Ohio -- New research suggests a dental visit may trigger asthma symptoms in some children with the disorder.
Researchers found that nearly one out of three children with asthma developed some symptoms within 30 minutes after visiting their dentists. And about 15 percent of the kids had a clinically significant decrease in lung function.
Dental treatment is not a benign experience for some children with asthma, said Paul Casamassimo, co-author of the study and professor and chair of pediatric dentistry at Ohio State University.
Asthma -- the leading serious chronic illness of children in the United States -- is a condition that obstructs airflow into the lungs. Symptoms include coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath. Potential causes for the illness include cigarette smoke, physical exercise, changes in weather, emotional stress and allergens such as pollen and house dust.
The study did not determine exactly what triggers an asthma
attack after a dental visit. But Casamassimo suggests that allergens may be a key culprit. Allergens may take the form of cotton swabbing placed in the mouth or small clouds of water vapor that normally occur during dental procedures.
The researchers did determine, however, that stress and anxiety over a dental visit did not play a role in causing an attack. They found that patient history, such as a recent asthma-related emergency room visit, did not predict a post-dental asthma attack.
The study appears in a recent issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association. The lead researcher, Tanya Mathew, conducted this study for partial fulfillment of a master of science degree. She is now a clinical assistant professor of dentistry at Ohio State.