Face masks have transformed a lot in the past few months. Once reserved mainly for sick days and dusty environments, face masks have since become recognized as the key to safety and protection during the COVID-19 Pandemic by major public health agencies, such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as governments all around the world.
Nowadays, it’s almost rare to find a place where the wearing of face masks in public places isn’t mandatory or at least vehemently recommended. And while face masks are completely safe and harmless for most people, problems with ‘mask mouth’ can sometimes become a challenge to deal with. Read on to find out what ‘mask mouth’ is and how you can prevent problems with your oral health during these trying times.
What is mask mouth?
The term ‘mask mouth’ was recently coined by dentists in New York City to refer to the sudden increase of dental problems brought on by the pandemic. The symptoms of mask mouth include bad breath, swollen gums, and cavities—common dental problems that can lead to tooth abscess, cardiovascular problems, and other serious health issues when left untreated.
Of course, people don’t experience mask mouth simply by wearing a face mask all day. The condition is actually caused by a change in oral care and breathing habits.
Many dentists have identified “dry mouth” as one of the main causes of bad breath and tooth decay. Dry mouth, also known as Xerostomia, is a condition where your mouth isn’t able to produce as much saliva as it should.
Saliva prevents cavities and gum disease by neutralizing acids from mouth bacteria, as well as protecting our teeth and gums from dirt and plaque. When your mouth lacks saliva, you become more prone to gingivitis, tooth decay, and other serious oral health problems.
Dry mouth can strike when you breathe through your mouth a lot. The air you suck in reduces saliva production, leaving your mouth feeling quite dry and parched. As a result, your teeth and gums become more vulnerable to dirt, plaque, and harmful oral bacteria.
We experience dry mouth when we breathe through our mouths than our noses while wearing a mask. Dentists say that constant mouth breathing decreases our protection from tooth decay, making our chances of getting painful cavities much higher.
Drinking too many hot drinks and alcohol at home can also lead to a bad case of dry mouth. Hot water and caffeine wash away saliva from the mouth, while alcohol depletes essential fluids in your body by making you urinate more than usual.
Preventing dental problems at home
You can keep your teeth and gums safe from serious dental problems simply by practicing good oral hygiene habits at home and on the go. Here are the best ways to protect yourself from oral health issues caused by mask mouth.
1. Floss and brush properly every day
Following a proper oral hygiene routine every day is the most effective way to keep your oral health in great shape. Food debris is one of the main culprits for cavities, gum disease, and bad breath. This is because when the starches and crumbs in our mouth break down into sugar, they can combine with harmful bacteria to produce acids that dissolve tooth enamel and cause painful cavities.
Brushing and flossing are essential to daily cavity prevention. Make sure to brush all nooks and corners of your teeth for at least 2 minutes every morning and night. That way, you can get rid of harmful cavity-causing bacteria and plaque. You’ll also want to floss after brushing to get rid of nasty plaque and bacteria from areas where your toothbrush can’t reach. If possible, rinse once a day with alcohol-free mouthwash to get rid of excess bacteria and dirt.
2. Take a breather
Mask breaks are important to both your oral and overall health. Take some time to breathe fresh air through your nose when you’re at home or in a wide and well-ventilated area far away from people. This will help you relax and reduce your chances of getting a case of dry mouth. However, it’s important to take breaks only when you’re in a safe, private place to reduce the spread of disease. When you’re in a public place with lots of people, it’s best to keep your mask on.
3. Stay Hydrated
When it’s time to relax at home again, go for a fresh and clean glass of water instead of coffee or beer. Water washes away dirt from your mouth, thus lowering your risk of developing painful cavities. Drinking water also reduces your risk of dry mouth and gum disease, and keeps your body healthy and replenished.
4. Visit your dentist
It’s vital to get regular cleanings and dental check-ups. Your dentist can detect and treat signs of oral problems before they get worse, as well as get rid of plaque and dirt left behind by your toothbrush. If you’re worried about seeing a dentist in-person, don’t fret! Dentists all over the world are taking proper safety precautions, such as using safe and durable PPEs, as well as disinfecting their offices daily. Teledentistry services are also available 24/7 for those who prefer to consult a dentist at home.
5. Wash Your Mask Daily
Mouth bacteria isn’t the only thing you have to worry about. Bacteria from sweat, dirt, and debris on our face masks can spread to our mouth, causing serious oral and overall health problems. To keep yourself safe from harmful bacteria, remember to wash used masks with hot water, soap, and detergent.
Another effective way to reduce nasty oral health problems is to clean your teeth and gums daily with a great-quality electric dental scaler. The Meeteasy Electric Dental Scaler eliminates harmful plaque and dirt from in-between teeth and along the gum line in just a few minutes. Order yours from our online store now!