How To Retain Oral Health When Your Child Has Cystic Fibrosis
Children with cystic fibrosis must receive the medical care that they desperately need. If you have either a son or daughter with this disease, then lung distress and the formation of thick mucus within the bronchial tubes should be your main concern. You also need to be worried about oral health, because there are some conditions that are likely to arise with the disease. Consider the information below so that oral health can be maintained.
Encourage Good Brushing Habits
If your son or daughter has cystic fibrosis, then his or her doctor has likely informed you that nutrition is important to fight the disease. Nutrients and vitamins are not absorbed as easily due to the reduced function of the pancreas. Also, good nutrition helps to provide the body with more energy so that infections can be properly controlled. Energy is also required to help your child breathe as thick mucus builds in the lungs. Your child should be provided with high calorie and high fat foods to meet nutritional needs. Often times, this means that your child will eat many meals and snacks a day. Also, dense carbohydrates will probably be consumed regularly to meet caloric needs.
When your child eats carbohydrates, then bacteria will become active in the mouth as they feed on the leftover bits of food. The bacterial activity can lead to cavities, so make sure your child brushes thoroughly at least twice a day. Consider investing in an electronic toothbrush so that plaque can be released from the teeth more easily. Also, water pics and dental floss should be used daily to get rid of the food that gets stuck between the teeth.
Look for Signs of Candida
Your child will likely need to take antibiotics regularly to fight lung infections. They will be prescribed as an oral, intravenous, or inhaled medication. The dose and duration of the medicine will depend on the severity of your child's condition and the prevalence of past infections. When antibiotics are taken, the drugs kill off a great deal of the bacteria that naturally live within the body. This means that the bacteria that live within the mouth are affected by the drugs. This may not seem like a bad thing, but there are also yeast microorganisms that reside in the mouth. The bacteria keep the yeast from growing out of control. Without the bacteria, large yeast colonies are likely to form in the mouth, and the condition is called oral thrush.
Make sure to check your son or daughter's mouth often when they are required to take a course of antibiotics. Look for white spots forming on the inside of the cheeks, and also inspect the mouth for red and open sores. Your child may complain of soreness in the mouth too, when yeast begins to build.
Treating Oral Thrush
If you see any signs of oral thrush, then speak with your child's pediatric dentist. The professional may want to swab the mouth so a diagnosis can be confirmed. Also, your doctor or dentist may suggest a blood test. Oral thrush is more likely to form if your child is deficient in folate, iron, or vitamin B12. Since cystic fibrosis reduces the body's ability to absorb nutrients, the test can provide you with valuable information about nutritional needs.
Once the testing is completed, an anti-fungal gel medication will be prescribed to control the yeast in the mouth. Supplements will also be supplied to treat the vitamin deficiency. Antibiotic medications may be reduced for some time to allow the bacteria to naturally control the yeast in the mouth.
If you take care of a child with cystic fibrosis, then it is your job to pay close attention to oral health. Making sure that the teeth are brushed often and looking for signs of oral thrush are two important things you should be doing.