How to keep your breath fresh with a mask.
This year has brought us a variety of changes due to the arrival of COVID-19, not the least of which is the need to wear a mask when in an environment with other people. Some joked that masks allowed the wearer to make faces or even stick out a tongue unseen. Some commented that wearing a mask meant that they didn’t have to worry about their breath anymore.
Unfortunately, that one has now been proven false, and it’s definitely not a joke.
With dentists now seeing patients again, they have found that some patients are now displaying some surprising symptoms that have been dubbed “mask mouth”—a play on the term “meth mouth.” Even those patients who have never before demonstrated any significant dental issues are experiencing oral hygiene issues related to constantly wearing a mask.
As many as 50% of patients being seen by some dentists are experiencing mask mouth, with symptoms that include not only extremely bad breath, but more serious complications such as receding gum lines and decaying teeth.
While mask mouth isn’t nearly as obvious as the condition it is named after, it can still prove harmful if not treated properly. Gum disease, for example, affects more than just oral health—it can lead to stroke and an increased risk of heart attack, and face coverings are responsible.
The main issue is that when wearing a mask, the average person will tend to breathe through their mouth, rather than their nose, resulting in a dry mouth. This in turn leads to a decrease in the saliva that serves to fight bacteria in the mouth and cleans your teeth. Saliva is also responsible for neutralizing acid in the mouth. It helps to fight periodontal disease and prevent tooth decay.
Prior to the pandemic, water bottles seemed rather ubiquitous. Most people drank frequently and kept hydrated. Wearing a mask has resulted in people drinking less water. Combined with an increase in the consumption of coffee and alcohol, dehydration is becoming more common.
If there is an upside to the emergence of mask mouth, it is the fact that people are becoming aware of their sour breath and seeking help and advice from their dentists, leading those who might otherwise neglect their dental health during the pandemic to seek dental cleanings and other interventions. Unfortunately for them, by the point that they are recognizing their bad breath, they either have a mouthful of bacteria, or worse, they are dealing with periodontal disease.
With the current state of affairs, mask wearing is mandatory in many situations and simply not negotiable. There are, however, some ways to protect against mask mouth, including:
- Drink more water
- Reduce consumption of coffee and alcohol
- Scrape or brush your tongue
- Use an alcohol-free mouthwash
- Avoid smoking
- Breathe through your nose, not your mouth
Masks are likely to be with us for quite a while longer, but with the proper precautions, you can avoid this unpleasant and unhealthy side-effect that they produce.
Book an appointment or speak with a professional at Rocky Ridge Dental today, call us at 403-244-2273.