Should You Be Concerned About “Mask Mouth”?
“Mask mouth” is a new dental concern that more of our patients are asking about. Bad breath is hard to ignore when it is trapped inside of your mask. There has also been an uptick in dental problems in people who never had them before.
Wearing a mask when you are in public is the safest thing you can do during the pandemic. Many businesses and communities are also requiring people to wear them. Masks can help to protect others from respiratory droplets that could carry the virus.
Understanding the concerns that mask-wearing creates gives you the ability to protect your smile.
How Masks Raise Awareness of Oral Health Problems
Bad breath is often related to tooth and gum problems such as decay and periodontitis. People don’t always realize that they have bad breath until someone points it out. Masks hold your breath closer to your nose. This makes it more likely that you’ll notice this potentially embarrassing problem on your own.
Simple treatments with your Tempe dentist can get bad breath under control. Some people just need a good cleaning to remove plaque and tartar. Others may need more intensive gum disease treatments. Figuring out why you have bad breath helps to make wearing a mask more pleasant.
Risk Factors for Getting Mask Mouth
You have a higher risk of developing mask mouth symptoms if you wear one for more than an hour or two at a time. Students who are returning to school have a higher risk of getting a mask mouth. Full-time workers who wear a mask all day tend to have more symptoms.
Your risks also increase based on oral health factors. People who are already starting with a dry mouth or early gum disease may notice symptoms develop faster.
The Connection Between Masks and Dry Mouth
The main reason why mask mouth develops is due to dryness. Wearing a mask may make you less likely to drink water during the day. Mouth breathing is also common when people wear masks.
Dry mouth is associated with a higher risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Saliva helps to rinse away food debris and lower bacterial growth. People who have a dry mouth for a long time often have increased cavities and gum inflammation.
Signs of Mask-Related Tooth and Gum Problems
Bad breath is an obvious clue that a mask might be causing problems. You might also notice if your mouth feels dry. Gums that bleed during your normal hygiene routine are a sign that they are inflamed.
During an exam, we might notice other signs of mask mouth. Tooth decay in people who rarely have cavities is a big warning sign. The same is true of gum disease.
Tips to Avoid Developing Mask Mouth
The good news is that you have some control over how mask-wearing affects your oral health. We recommend learning to focus on your breathing. Check yourself throughout the day to make sure that you are breathing through your nose. This significantly helps to cut down on mouth dryness.
Staying on top of your normal hygiene routine helps as well. If possible, carry a toothbrush with you to brush your teeth after you eat. You’ll have better breath and reduce bacteria in your mouth.
Masks might disguise your smile, but they could reveal serious dental problems. With regular dental checkups and self-care, you can protect your teeth from damage during the pandemic.