Masks have been a part of our daily lives since last spring and they will probably be around for a while to come. Wearing a face mask prevents the transmission of the virus that landed us in this pandemic. While most of us are getting used to it and are happy to do our part to fight the spread of COVID-19, the deed is amplifying and even causing issues with our oral health.
From tooth decay to bad breath, here we share ways that mask mouth is affecting our lives and what you can do to minimize the damage.
What Is Mask Mouth?
Face masks tend to dry our mouths out and encourage plaque buildup due to switching from nasal breathing to mouth breathing. Nasal breathing is the healthiest form of breathing. Breathing through your nose has many benefits including: heats, humidifies, filters, and disinfects the air we breathe. Mouth breathing does none of that and actually does the opposite in many situations.
Problems Caused or Exacerbated by Masks
Reduced Saliva – The saliva we produce protects our mouth by fighting bacteria present and stops viruses from entering the body. When masks cause dry mouth, this decreases the impact that saliva can have on the mouth. A dry mouth is also usually a stinky one, halitosis is worsened by a dry mouth. The food left in our teeth when we lack saliva can cause tooth decay.
Gum Concerns – Inflamed gums and gum disease is on the rise as a result of the plaque that builds up in dry mouths that wear masks continually throughout the day.
Dehydration – When you’re wearing a mask it can be a bother to repeatedly pull it down to ensure that we are drinking enough water each day. Mouth breathing also dehydrates you.
Preventing Mask Mouth
There are things you can do while wearing your mask and when you’re out of it to help fight mask mouth.
- Breathe through your nose as much as possible, not your mouth
- Drink plenty of water during the day
- Make sure you brush and floss twice a day
- Rinse your mouth after each snack or meal
- Make sure that you get dental care for gum disease
- Wash your mask if it is reusable
- If your mask is disposable, change and discard them frequently
- Reduce your intake of caffeine, sugar
- Visit your dentist regularly, especially if you notice bad breath or have any other oral health concerns
Dr. Coates’ Long Beach, CA dental team is here to help you keep mask mouth at bay or solve any issues that it has caused. We are open and available, ready to help you with cleanings, gum disease treatments, and other dental solutions.
Call us to schedule your appointment today at 562-434-6414 or request an appointment using our online system here.