What is Mask Mouth?
What Is Mask Mouth and How You Can Prevent It:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing a mask in public settings to slow the spread of Covid-19. Some individuals wear a mask for the better part of their day while at work or running errands. If you have worn a mask for an extended period of time you probably have experienced one or more of the “mask mouth” symptoms.
The most common mask mouth symptoms are:
- Dry mouth or xerostomia. This occurs when you are unable to keep your mouth moist with your saliva. Dry mouth can wreak havoc on the mouth, causing tooth decay possibly leading to oral infections. It also can cause discomfort when eating, swallowing, and speaking.
- Bleeding Gums. One of the first signs of gingivitis is bleeding gums. Wearing a mask can affect the amount and even the type of bacteria in your mouth, which may lead to plaque build-up. This all has the potential to cause inflammation of the gums fast-tracking your way to gum disease.
- Bad Breath. Dry mouth, oral hygiene home care, not maintaining regular dental check-ups and what you eat can all cause bad breath. Bad breath can often be intensified when trapped inside/behind your mask. This is one of the more unpleasant and noticeable side effects of mask-wearing.
The side effects from prolonged mask wearing are said to be caused by two common factors:
- Recycling air. The act of recycling more carbon dioxide than usual according to Aerosol and Air Quality Research happens when wearing a mask. Although it’s said to not have a toxicological effect on your body it can increase the acidity of your oral microbiome. This increased acid in the mouth may increase the risk of gum disease and oral infections.
- Most people say they drink less than usual while wearing a mask which can cause dehydration. Dehydration can cause dry mouth which in turn increases your risk of tooth decay and bad breath.
Mask Mouth Prevention:
- Stay hydrated.
- Use a clean mask. Change your mask as often as possible.
- Rinse frequently. Rising with mouthwash or water between brushing can help fight oral bacteria.
- Maintain or increase professional oral cleanings. Most dental offices offer an “in-between clean” for a lower cost than your 6-month check- up. Some insurance companies even cover 1-2 extra cleanings a year! Check with your health care provider and insurance carrier about these added benefits.
- Focus on “at home” oral hygiene. Brushing, flossing and rinsing 2-3 times a day can decrease your risk of gum disease and decay.