How to Protect Yourself from “Mask Mouth”

With mask requirements and “strong suggestions” for wearing them almost everywhere in public right now, many people are finding that they are suffering from unwanted side effects. Wearing a mask covers the lower part of the face, and it is putting oral health at risk. While we at Montevallo Family Dentistry want you to remain healthy, we also want to help you maintain a smile healthy during these unprecedented times.

A new condition has been associated with long-term mask-wearing known as “mask mouth.” When the mouth is covered for hours a day, people are finding that they are experiencing some very foul symptoms. Dentists around the United States are reporting that even their healthiest patients who have always exhibited optimal oral health are dealing with issues like tooth decay, severe bad breath, and receding gum tissues.

It is essential to understand what is causing these issues, how your mask-wearing contributes to the problems, and what you can do to protect your oral health.

“Mask mouth” is being linked to:

  • Mouth breathing. 80% of your oxygen should come from breathing air in through your nose. However, most people who are wearing a mask for longer than 3 minutes find that they continually breathe through their mouths. Masks limit air intake, causing people to open their mouths so that they can take in more air. Mouth breathing causes a decrease in saliva production. The mouth is drier, and saliva production cannot keep the mouth as moist as it needs to be. Saliva also helps fight against bacterial growth because saliva continually rinses the mouth and washes bacteria away from the teeth and gums. Without adequate saliva production, bacteria linger in the mouth and cause rapid decay.
  • Dry mouth. When the mouth does not produce enough saliva, dry mouth occurs. Dry mouth leads to a buildup of bacteria that harm the teeth and gums, and these bacteria lead to severe bad breath.
  • Dehydration. It is easy to see that people are not drinking enough water when the mouth is continually covered. Dehydration is dangerous to a person’s overall health, and it can contribute to dangerous oral health issues.

If you must wear a mask, please ensure that you are taking the necessary steps to protect your oral health throughout the day. Step outside frequently to remove your mask, drink plenty of water, chew sugar-free gum, and ask your dentist how you can better protect yourself from “mask mouth".

Posted on Behalf of Montevallo Family Dentistry