What Is Mask Mouth?
"Mask mouth" is a term that has become increasingly common since the onset of the pandemic. But what is mask mouth? Stay tuned as we review what mask mouth is, what causes mask mouth and how to prevent and treat it.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, masks have become commonplace. To slow the spread of Coronavirus, people have been advised to wear masks wherever they come into close contact with other people, particularly in tight indoor spaces. Masks create a barrier so that droplets of potentially infected saliva can't travel far when you breathe or talk.
While most people agree that they're not a guarantee against catching or spreading COVID-19, they contribute somewhat to hampering the spread.
Unfortunately, wearing masks for long hours can also have negative health consequences — mask mouth.
Mask mouth is a condition that can develop from wearing a face mask for extended periods of time. The most common symptom is bad breath, but other oral health problems can develop as well, such as tooth decay and gum disease. The good news is that mask mouth is both preventable and treatable with good oral hygiene habits.
What Causes Mask Mouth?
Dry mouth, foul breath, dental decay, and even gum disease can all be symptoms of mask mouth. Dental practitioners attribute these adverse effects to a number of factors:
- Disrupted Breathing. According to a PNMedical study, wearing a mask might affect your breathing, producing more quick, shallow breaths. It can cause people to breathe with their mouths, chest, and neck instead of their diaphragm. Breathing out of your mouth reduces the quantity of saliva, which is a vital part of your dental health. Saliva contributes to dental health by cleaning away food debris and protecting your teeth from cavities.
- Dehydration. When you wear a mask, you drink less water than normal. Dehydration can cause dry mouth, which increases your chances of tooth decay and poor breath.
- Recycled air. Wearing a mask traps more carbon dioxide in your mouth than usual. This level of carbon dioxide has no toxicological impact on your body. However, it can raise the acidity of your oral microbiota, putting you at risk for mask mouth.
Signs of Mask Mouth
The degree of mask mouth symptoms varies from person to person, although the disorder is most typically manifested as:
- Mouth dryness. A dry mouth occurs when there is insufficient saliva to keep your mouth wet. Dry mouth not only makes it harder to eat, swallow, and talk, but it also raises your risk of tooth decay and other oral illnesses.
- Poor breath. Halitosis, often known as foul breath, can be caused by what you consume, your oral hygiene practices, and dry mouth. Prolonged mask usage can exacerbate dry mouth, but it also retains odors generated by poor oral hygiene or eating pungent foods like garlic and onions.
- Bleeding gums. If your gums are swollen or show signs of bleeding, this might be an indication of gingivitis. Wearing a mask may change the kind and number of bacteria in your mouth, causing plaque buildup and spreading to your gum tissues. This is just one of the symptoms of mask mouth.
While these symptoms may seem common enough, they can eventually lead to more serious conditions like tooth decay or gum disease. If you have one or more of these symptoms and suspect that you may have mask mouth, consult your pharmacist or doctor for advice.
How to Prevent Mask Mouth
There are several methods for avoiding mask mouth, the most effective of which is to decrease the usage of face masks. We're not advising you should quit using face masks entirely since they're still a viable defense strategy against Covid-19. Consider going out less or only meeting up with people outdoors or in well-ventilated spaces.
If you must go wear a mask, make sure to take regular breaks and breathe in some fresh air. Take every opportunity to drink water or even brush your teeth and use mouthwash.
Wearing a face mask is a defense against infectious diseases during a pandemic, but it's also crucial to maintain good dental health. Remember that the key to refreshing your breath and preventing oral health concerns is constant dental care.
Additionally, you can:
- Focus on your oral hygiene routine
- Always use a clean mask
- Breathe regularly
- Breathe through your nose
- Stay hydrated
Mask Mouth Treatment
Treating mask mouth follows the same general principle as preventing it. Focusing on your dental hygiene and making sure that bacteria don't have a fertile environment to propagate is key to both prevention and treatment.
If you already have mask mouth and are concerned about it getting worse or causing serious problems, consult your physician. They'll likely prescribe something to reduce bacteria and improve gum health.
The Bottom Line
Mask mouth is a new oral health condition that has been popping up lately due to the increased wearing of face masks. The condition is characterized by an increase in cavities, gum disease, and bad breath. While the exact cause of mask mouth is not yet known, it is thought to be related to the reduced saliva flow that occurs when wearing masks.
Saliva is important for keeping the mouth clean and preventing the build-up of bacteria. When saliva flow is reduced, there is a greater chance for bacteria to thrive and cause problems like cavities and gum disease. There are also other potential causes of mask mouth, such as dry mouth, poor oral hygiene, and medications that can cause dry mouth as a side effect.
If you are concerned about mask mouth, there are some things you can do to help prevent it. Be sure to drink plenty of water, brush your teeth twice a day, and use a tongue scraper or toothbrush to clean your tongue. You can also try using a humidifier at night to keep your mouth from getting too dry. Finally, be sure to see your dentist regularly for check-ups and cleanings.