submitted by Jared Kenwood DDS, Yardley Dental Care
Wearing a mask is a necessary part of combating COVID-19 and everyone should do it to help stop the spread of the virus. Recently however, many patients have noticed that their mouths don’t feel the same as they used to. Many have complained of dryness, bad breath and discomfort while speaking or smiling.
The term for many of the symptoms is what has been referred to as Mask Mouth – a side effect of wearing a mask for prolonged periods of time.
Mask Mouth can manifest itself in a few different ways. Most commonly is dehydration of the oral tissues.
For some, simply wearing a mask limits the frequency with which they can drink water. For others, wearing the mask does not allow for normal breathing and encourages more mouth breathing.
Mouth breathing is characterized by shorter quick breaths from the mouth. This activity reduces the amount of normal and necessary saliva that acts to moisten the mouth and keep it healthy.
The reduction in saliva also has an effect on cavities.
Without the protective properties of saliva to remove food particles and neutralize pathogens in the mouth, we have seen an increase in cavities and gum disease.
Dry mouth has also led many to notice bad breath. Without the proper oral environment a proliferation of unhealthy bacteria can develop and cause a foul odor.
If Mask Mouth is affecting you, there are a few things you can do.
Take breaks from wearing the mask when you can.
Breathe through your nose when possible to allow your mouth time to return to its traditional role.
Drink water to stay hydrated. Other drinks with some sweeteners, dyes or additives may contribute to the problem.
Most importantly, visit your dentist. Sometimes more frequent removal of plaque and bacteria is necessary to maintain your health and reduce the symptoms of Mask Mouth.