What is Mask Mouth?

 

At this point, it is routine to wear a mask when stepping outside or entering indoor spaces where airflow is tighter. It plays a crucial role in reducing the spread of the coronavirus and protecting the community that you reside in. However, since the beginning of the pandemic, dentists have noticed an increasing number of patients coming to their offices with bad breath, additional plaque build-up, and infected gums. The increased number of oral conditions are the result of wearing masks for an extended period of time, also known as "Mask Mouth". "Mask mouth" involves a variety of oral side effects that can lead to a series of dental conditions if not monitored and treated. Such side effects include dry mouth, bad breath, tooth decay and potentially gum disease.

What causes Mask Mouth?

Mask mouth is attributed to the following conditions:

  1. Change in breathing patterns: According to a study conducted by PNMedical, mask-wearing can impact our normal breathing pattern, causing us to breathe more rapid, shallow breaths through our mouths instead of our diaphragm. Breathing through our mouths reduces saliva, which is important for clearing bacteria, food debris and protecting our teeth from cavities.

  2. Dehydration: Wearing a mask reduces the frequency we drink water. This causes us to be more dehydrated, leading to dry mouth. Dry mouth increases the risk of tooth decay and bad breath.

  3. Recycling Air: When we wear a mask, we are also breathing in more carbon dioxide than normal. Although the amount we breathe in is harmless, it can increase the acidity of the bacteria in your mouth which can increase your risk for infections and inflammation in the gums.

Effects & Symptoms:

While wearing your mask, be aware of the common symptoms of mask mouth:

  • Dry mouth
  • Bad breath
  • Increased Plaque

Tips to keep your mouth fresh under your mask:

Keep wearing your mask while practicing oral hygiene more thoroughly. Here are some practices you can implement in your dental care routine:

  1. Stay well hydrated: While wearing a mask, make an extra effort to drink more water to keep yourself hydrated.

  2. Use a clean mask: Recycling used masks can increase bacteria growth in your mouth. Clean your mask regularly and switch a used mask for clean masks daily.

  3. Freshen your breath more often, use mouthwash throughout the day!: Using non-alcoholic mouthwash in the morning and beyond can freshen your breath by taming the bacteria that cause bad breath.

  4. Visit your dentist for more regular cleanings and check-ups: Visiting your dentist for regular cleanings will help remove any built-up plaque and bacteria in your gums. Your hygienist will be able to better monitor for warning signs and developing issues.

  5. Clean your tongue and floss!: Food and bacteria can build-up in areas that you cannot reach with a toothbrush so it is important to floss and clean your tongue to remove any excess debris.

Although wearing a mask for an extended period of time can create oral side effects, it continues to play a significant role in reducing the spread of the coronavirus. If you continue to take care of your teeth and gums by brushing your teeth regularly, flossing, and drinking more water, you can prevent the occurrence of mask mouth!

In the future, when we no longer have to wear masks everywhere we go, these extra practices will only help your oral hygiene even more! Stay safe!