The COVID-19 pandemic has come with a list of challenges and hurdles. A few months into quarantine and social distancing measures, dentists across the country started noticing trends in their patients. “We’re seeing inflammation in people’s gums that have been healthy forever, and cavities in people who have never had them before,” says Dr. Rob Ramondi, a dentist and co-founder of One Manhattan Dental. About 50% of patients are also complaining about bad breath or sore gums. During the patient exams, dentists are discovering what is now coined, “mask mouth”. We know… it sounds bad, but there are easy ways to prevent it, and ditching the mask isn’t one of them.
In this article, we’ll break down what “mask mouth” is and the various ways you can prevent it.
What Is Mask Mouth?
While mask mouth is a relatively new issue, dentists have learned some interesting details about what it is and why some people are experiencing the condition. Mask mouth is a dental hygiene issue caused by wearing a mask over an extended period of time. When people wear masks, they tend to breathe through the mouth, as it’s often easier than breathing through the nose. However, when breathing through your mouth, it tends to dry out and bacteria builds up. That buildup of bacteria is due to the lack of saliva in the dry mouth. Saliva works to neutralize acid, cleanse the mouth from bacteria, and help prevent tooth decay and gum disease. If untreated, Dr. Marc Sclafani, another co-founder of One Manhattan Dental, says, “Gum disease—or periodontal disease—will eventually lead to strokes and an increased risk of heart attacks.” Lucky, there are simple ways to avoid mask mouth and any resulting issue.
Top 4 Ways to Avoid Mask Mouth
1) Cut down on acidic drinks and up your water intake.
Caffeinated beverages, alcohol, and any other acidic drinks can lead to premature tooth decay. Adding the face mask could speed up the process. Instead, drink plenty of water to increase the moisture in your mouth and keep your body in tip-top shape.
2) Brush, floss, and use a tongue scraper.
You should already be doing these actions each day, but if you’re wearing a mask throughout most of your day, it would be best to throw in an extra brushing session. Try to use an alcohol-free mouthwash as well. This will help control the number of bacteria in your mouth and keep your pearly whites… well, white.
3) Quit smoking.
If you don’t already have plenty of reasons to quit smoking, we can add one more to the list. Smoking will advance tooth decay, gum disease, and produce terrible breath that you will be forced to smell as you wear your mask.
4) Wash your mask daily.
Your mask is exposed to bacteria and other undesirable particles both inside and out every day. By washing your mask, you limit the number of germs you will be exposed to by breathing.
Help Prevent Mask Mouth as a Dental Assistant
Is dental hygiene something that interests you? Do you find joy in helping others live healthy lives? Our dental assistant program will get you fully prepared to enter the field. Take a look at our courses and schedule a virtual admissions appointment where we can answer any questions.
Also, check out our blog, What to Expect When Working as a Dental Assistant, to learn more about the career and skills needed to succeed!