For almost a year now, masks have been utilized to help slow the spread of infectious diseases, like the Covid-19 virus. Masks are incredibly useful and help protect you and others from respiratory droplets that might be passed from person to person.
With that said, wearing masks consistently has caused a phenomenon called “mask mouth,” an inconvenient and potential harmful side effect of consistent mask wearing.
What Is Mask Mouth?
Mask mouth is essentially a variety of oral side effects from wearing a mask and can be caused by a number of sources.
For one, mask mouth can be caused by disrupted breathing patterns. Typically, when we breathe, we use our diaphragm. When wearing a mask, your breathing is more rapid and shallow, meaning you are utilizing your mouth, chest, and neck more.
The more you breathe out of your mouth, the more you decrease the amount of saliva in your mouth. Saliva is very important in regard to your oral health. Saliva helps wash away food debris and even protects your teeth from cavities.
Additionally, mask mouth is caused by dehydration. Studies have shown that wearing a mask all day results in people drinking less water. Dehydration can actually lead to dry mouth, which increases your risk of tooth decay and bad breath.
Finally, mask mouth can be caused by recycling air. Wearing a mask traps more carbon dioxide in your mouth than your mouth is accustomed to. While the carbon dioxide is not toxic to you, it can slightly increase the amount of acid in your mouth. Higher levels of acid can put you at risk for infections or inflammatory conditions like gum disease.
Of course, not everyone suffers from mask mouth. But if you notice a perpetually dry mouth, regular bad breath, or bleeding gums, you may be experiencing some adverse effects of wearing a mask every day.
How Can I Prevent Mask Mouth?
Even if you are experiencing some of these symptoms, don’t stop wearing your mask. Masks help slow the spread of Covid-19 and protects you and the people around you. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to prevent mask mouth.
- Make sure to pay special attention to your oral care routine. Brush your teeth at a minimum of two times a day and floss every day.
- You can start using mouthwash throughout the day to fight bacterial growth. Make sure you choose a mouthwash that does not perpetuate dry mouth.
- Drink plenty of water throughout your day. Limiting alcohol and coffee can also help fight dehydration.
- Another important suggestion is to use a clean face mask every day. Bacteria can grow on the inside of your mask if you wear it every day with no washing. So make sure you wash your mask.
- And of course, if you notice any tooth pain or gum tenderness, you should immediately contact your dentist to make sure nothing more serious is happening.
Get in Touch with Our Team
Mask mouth is unpleasant, and if unaddressed can lead to more serious issues. However, for the majority of cases, mask mouth is preventable and easily treatable.
At East Center Dental, our team is equipped to answer any questions you may have about dentistry and oral health. Contact us today!