What is Mask Mouth + How to Prevent It
Mask Mouth. Yes, it’s a real thing and we’re about to break it down for you.
While wearing a face mask is important to keep us safe from COVID-19, new medical and oral health issues are becoming apparent from the long period of time that many of us are having to wear them.
Wait! Forward this blog post to someone you know who has to wear a mask all day at work or school!
FACE MASKS ARE SAVING US FROM COVID-19
Every time we say a single phrase, we release hundreds of respiratory droplets that can be transmitted several feet away. These tiny droplets are almost impossible to track and therefore just as difficult to tell who is infected or not.
Masks protect and help prevent the transmission of COVID-19 by stopping the droplets from being transmitted. This is why the CDC recommends everyone use them for protection.
WHAT IS MASK MOUTH?
One emerging dental concern is an oral health issue called Mask Mouth. By some estimations, almost 50% of the dental patients being seen today are experiencing signs of Mask Mouth. Patients that have had a history of healthy teeth and gums are now showing problems, but they are not due to poor dental hygiene. Instead, they are a direct result of mask-wearing.
When you wear a face mask it increases the dryness in your mouth. This is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria and viruses to grow. Your body produces saliva to create a protective barrier. There are also antimicrobial components that are produced to fight the bacteria. Saliva also plays an important part in preventing viruses from entering directly into our bodies.
WHAT IS THE ACTUAL IMPACT OF USING FACE MASKS ON OUR HEALTH?
Increase of Tooth Decay
When the mouth becomes dry because of wearing a face mask, the saliva produced to flush food particles in your teeth is decreased. Sugar helps bacteria to thrive, this paired with the food particles not being removed results in tooth decay.
When your body’s immune system sees increases in bacteria and viruses it will create inflammation of the gums. This could be a signal that there are too many bacteria in our mouth that is attacking your gums. This can eventually lead to periodontal disease.
Prolonged dryness in the mouth is the perfect environment for odor-causing bacteria to grow. This is then called Halitosis or Bad Breath. Many patients say that they have noticed a change in their breath when they wear a face mask for long periods of time.
Once we have Gum Disease, it is an irreversible dental condition and will require care for the rest of our life. This will slowly damage your gums and bone structure in your mouth. Many do not see any symptoms until they begin having receding and inflamed gums.
Changes in how you drink and breathing behaviors
Trying to keep hydrated and drinking water while also wearing a mask can be a difficult compromise. It is just another reason to forget to keep drinking fluids all day long.
The mask also creates issues in which people will breathe through their mouths to improve inhalation capacity. Doing so heightens dry mouth which like we mentioned leads to various dental conditions.
We recommend that you:
- continue breathing through your nose
- continue drinking water
- maintain oral hygiene to decrease dry mouth and the dental problems that can develop
HOW YOUR DENTIST CAN ASSIST WITH PREVENTING DENTAL PROBLEMS DURING A PANDEMIC
Here are some simple steps to stay on top of your oral hygiene during a pandemic:
- Keep your regularly scheduled dental cleanings to break down the plaque buildup on your teeth to prevent gum disease and tooth decay.
- Dental treatments can be implemented to prevent the bacteria from spreading if gum disease has begun.
- Having damaged teeth filled and restoration treatments maintained.
Have you experienced any symptoms of prolonged mask-wearing? Let us know!
As life changes, so must we adapt to keep ourselves healthy & happy!
- The Dentist of Allen