Some bad breath can’t be covered up—even with a mask. Nowadays, leaving home without a mask is about as alien as leaving home with a mask before the COVID-19 outbreak. Yet, constant mask-wearing is presenting a new oral hygiene issue: mask mouth.
What is Mask Mouth?
You may be familiar with the term meth mouth, which dental professionals use to describe oral problems in methamphetamine users. Meth addicts often display cracked and stained teeth, as the substance creates sugar cravings, triggers teeth-grinding, and provokes jaw-clenching.
Now, mask mouth isn’t nearly as detrimental, but it’s causing decaying teeth, receding gum lines, and sour breath. But how does wearing a mask cause this? Covering your face leads to dryness in the mouth, which exacerbates the build-up of bacteria.
While wearing a mask to run daily errands or escape a bout of cabin fever, individuals tend to breathe through their mouth instead of their nose. Mouth-breathing causes a decrease in saliva, which is what combats the bacteria that damages your teeth. Saliva is also a cleansing substance—at least in your mouth. It neutralizes acid, helping to prevent tooth decay and gum disease.
What Are the Effects of Mask Mouth?
The adverse effects of mask mouth aren’t always apparent, but they can become harmful if left untreated. Gum disease, or periodontal disease, increases a patient’s risk of experiencing a heart attack or stroke.
Dry mouth may not seem too pressing a health issue, but it can eventually lead to dehydration. Because mall-goers are less inclined to drink water while masked up, many will ignore dry mouth symptoms. During the lockdown, individuals tend to consume more caffeine and alcohol. Yes, they’re fluids, but they won’t do much for dehydration.
How to Eliminate Mask Mouth
On the contrary, hundreds of breath-conscious patients are taking regular trips to the dental house instead of neglecting their oral health. In Ann Arbor, many are coming in for cleaning.
With that in mind, wearing a mask is a non-negotiable amid today’s “new normal.” However, there are dozens of ways that mask-wearers can avoid mask mouth:
- Drink more water. If you’re running an errand, pack a tumbler of water in your backpack to avoid dehydration while you shop. Lifting your mask to take a sip won’t take much effort—just don’t remove it!
- Cut down on caffeine and alcohol. The occasional indulgence is acceptable, but consume too much, and you could be on the road towards tooth decay.
- Use an alcohol-free mouthwash. Along with flossing, the culminating step to brushing your teeth is using the right mouthwash.
- Don’t smoke—or at least cut down. Smoking creates plaque and tartar and interrupts saliva flow in the mouth.
Not every mask-wearer has access to affordable dentistry. Thus, it’s essential to pay attention to how your mouth feels—whether dehydrated or a little tangy. Practice proper oral hygiene every day, mask on, or mask off.
At Dental House MI, our restorative dental services can reverse the effects of tooth decay, trauma, and fractures. We’re more than happy to link you up with the right Ann Arbor dentist and just as happy to advise you on healthy mask-wearing habits.