By Dr. Bindu Nitali, MDS
Consultant Prosthodontist, Practising in Hubballi
earing a face mask to protect oneself and others from the risk of Covid-19 virus transmission has become unavoidable during this pandemic. As a result, the CDC recommends everyone use a face mask to protect themselves. Since the pandemic has spread further, we’ve been compelled to spend more time hiding behind the mask in order to avoid infection. Some people have complained about bad breath and skin lesions around the mouth because of wearing a mask for long periods of time.
According to many Canadian Dental Associations, they termed the phenomenon as “mask mouth.”
When you wear a face mask, the unavoidable mouth breathing generated by the mask worsens the dryness in your mouth. This creates an ideal environment for bacteria and viruses to flourish. Saliva’s beneficial features, such as producing a protective barrier and having antibacterial properties, are impaired when saliva production and flow are reduced in the mouth.
What effect does wearing a face mask have on our oral health?
- Bad breath — a dry mouth provides the ideal environment for odour-causing bacteria to thrive. Halitosis is the medical term for this condition. After wearing a mask for a long time, many individuals have noticed a difference in their breath.
- Inflamed gums and dental decay — as the mouth becomes drier, the saliva produced to remove food particles from our teeth decreases, allowing germs and viruses to flourish. The gums will get inflamed as a result. This can lead to periodontal disease, which causes your gums and bone structures in your mouth to deteriorate over time.
- Changes in drinking and breathing habits – most people try to breathe through their mouth when wearing a mask to increase their inhaling capacity. All of this contributes to a dry mouth, which can lead to several dental problems.
- Air trapping due to mask — when you wear a mask, you tend to trap more carbon dioxide in your mouth, creating a more acidic environment for bacterial growth and subsequent dental issues.
Tips for maintaining good dental hygiene and avoiding gum disease
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day if you have a mask mouth.
- Brush your tongue and floss between your teeth.
- Before putting on a mask, swish your mouth with a non-alcohol mouthwash.
- Continue to breathe through your nose while wearing the mask and drink lots of water throughout the day to stay hydrated and minimise mouth dryness.
- Take frequent breaks during the day at work, preferably away from congested places, to breathe fresh air without wearing a mask.
- To avoid producing an acidic environment in the mouth, avoid alcohol, sugary foods, and acidic drinks.
- Eating a nutritious and well-balanced diet is beneficial to both your overall and oral health.
- Attend your dental appointments regularly.
- Use a clean mask – replace it or clean it regularly to avoid bacterial growth.
Please consult your dermatologist if you have any skin lesions around your mouth that have come into touch with the mask.
Mask mouth might be inconvenient, but it’s easy to deal with by paying special attention to your dental hygiene and safeguarding others from the Covid-19 virus. So, put on your mask and take care of your teeth.