Have you developed dry mouth, bad breath or gum disease over the past year? Then, you might be suffering from a condition commonly known as Mask Mouth.
For the past year face masks have become an important physical barrier helping to stop the spread of respiratory bacteria and viruses. However, the anecdotal evidence suggest that constant mask‑wearing, for those of us not used to such methods of personal protection, might have had negative impact on overall dental health leading to increased numbers of individuals suffering from dental decay, receding gum lines and bad breath. But what are the most common symptoms of Mask Mouth and what can we do about them?
Symptom 1: Dry mouth
Having your mouth and nose constantly covered not makes us more likely to breath through the mouth, but can also reduce the amount of water we drink during the day. Thus it is not surprising that NHS lists both of these actions among the main causes of dry mouth, since both can reduce the flow of saliva leading to unpleasant sensation of dryness.
Symptom 2: Bad breath
The role of saliva in dental health is often taken for granted. However, numerous studies suggest that this complex fluid has many functions that are essential to our wellbeing beyond just food processing. For instance, our mouth is constantly being flushed with saliva to remove any food and drink leftovers. Therefore, the absence of sufficient saliva flow leaves food particles to break down within the mouth causing bad breath.
Symptom 3: Gum disease
Furthermore, active enzymes naturally present within saliva play a key role preventing the overgrowth of bacteria and plaque. As a result, reduced amount of saliva creates perfect conditions for bacteria to multiply feeding on any food leftovers, which can speed up tooth decay as well as lead to development of infections and gum disease, including bleeding and receding gums.
Tip 1: Stay hydrated
Considering that most negative effect of mask wearing seem to be related to reduced flow of saliva in the mouth, the first solution appears to be as easy as it sounds – drink more water. In fact, staying hydrated throughout the day is one of the key advises given by NHS to combat dry mouth, bad breath and gum disease.
Tip 2: Take extra care removing plaque
Since reduced flow of saliva can cause build-up of plaque, it might be necessary to upgrade the usual oral care routine putting in extra effort to remove plaque and food leftovers throughout the day. In addition to regular brushing and mouthwash use, you can try convenient interdental brushes or specialized water flosser. Both these dental accessories are designed to remove plaque from hard-to-reach places between the teeth and along the gum line helping to make sure teeth are 100% free from plaque and bacteria.
Tip 3: Use additional antibacterial protection
However, for some upgrading oral care routine might not be enough, particularly if gum infections have already taken a toll on dental health. Therefore, it might be worth to pick up a handy antibacterial mouth spray, which will help to naturally kills bacteria and calm down the inflammation reducing the risk or severity of infection and gum disease.
Stay protected and healthy!
Even though the symptoms of Mask Mouth might be rather unpleasant and can lead to serious dental issues if left unaddressed, they can be prevented by making a few lifestyle and oral hygiene changes. Furthermore, such changes will be beneficial on the long run even when wearing a mask ceases to be a life-saving necessity.
Tiwari, M., 2011. Science behind human saliva. Journal of natural science, biology, and medicine, 2(1), p.53.