The pandemic has changed how we do many things in our daily lives. Even as the country works on getting to the new normal, the coronavirus and its variants hold everyone hostage to uncertainty. Mask wearing, though spotty in general, is mandatory for some individuals due to health reasons or because of their work environment. If you are one who must wear a mask for hours at a time, there are some things of which you should be aware.
Mask Mouth Is a Real Thing
It may sound like a joke; however, mask mouth is an actual condition comprised of various side effects from wearing a mask for an extended period of time. Once masks became mandatory, dentists began seeing a rise in certain dental issues and attributed these to wearing masks. They noticed increases in tooth decay, gum disease, dry mouth and bad breath. Mask mouth does not affect everyone the same way, but one or more of the side effects are present with the condition.
Dry mouth, or xerostomia, occurs when there is insufficient saliva to keep your mouth moist. Dry mouth can make it more difficult for you to eat, swallow or even speak. Normally, saliva bathes your mouth with moisture and washes away much of the bad bacteria that lives there. When the supply of saliva is low, harmful bacteria can accumulate, causing a variety of problems. Dental decay and other oral infections are more likely to occur.
Bad breath is also more likely to occur as a result of dry mouth. The mask traps malodourous breath caused by poor oral hygiene and strong-smelling foods like garlic and onions. Decayed teeth and gum infection can also add to the smell if they are not addressed.
Bleeding gums are another symptom of mask mouth. Gingivitis can develop due to dry mouth and bleeding gums are a symptom of this condition. Since wearing a mask for hours at a time can lead to more accumulations of bacteria, the plaque buildup can also cause problems with gum disease.
Prevention of Mask Mouth
Even if you must wear a mask to do your job or for some other reason, you can prevent mask mouth by making some adjustments. First, make sure you step up your oral hygiene routine. Be sure to properly brush and floss your teeth at least twice a day. You can supplement your brushing by using mouthwash to freshen your breath and fight bacteria. Your dentist can recommend a mouthwash that will moisten rather than contribute to dry mouth. You can also chew sugar-free gum to keep your mouth moist, freshen breath and help remove food debris.
Minimize dry mouth by increasing your water intake. Stay hydrated and try not to use too many dehydrating drinks, such as coffee and alcohol.
Always wear a clean mask. Your mask will be full of bacteria from your mouth. Some people choose to change their mask throughout the day. If you wear disposable masks, do not reuse them. If you wear reusable masks, be sure to put on a clean one every day.
If you notice any oral problems or you seem to have symptoms of mask mouth, contact Engineered Smiles. We will help restore your oral health. Call today to schedule an appointment.