Mask Mouth: A Stinky Side Effect
6 October 2021
Stepping out of your house now requires more than the usual wallet, phone and keys. An important addition is to have a face mask with you.
Important measures to curb the Covid-19 pandemic have made everyone adapt to a new norm such as to don a face mask regularly. Unless you’re engaging in physical activities or in a task that allows you to be exempted, Singaporeans are required to wear one in public settings.
This step helps to keep you and your family safe but wearing it for extended periods of time could affect your oral health and create unwanted side effects, such as one known as Mask Mouth.
An emerging dental concern
Mask mouth is not an official term for a dental condition but it is no doubt an emerging oral health concern. It is a side effect caused by wearing a face mask for an extended period of time.
You may wonder: How can wearing a face mask affect my oral health when it’s supposed to protect my health in general?
Allow us to explain…
Wearing a face mask can cause changes to your breathing pattern, affect airflow and reduce your water intake. These factors lead to a decrease in the amount of saliva in your mouth. Therefore, causing dry mouth.
Dry mouth makes the perfect environment for bacteria and viruses to buildup and this can lead to teeth and gum diseases that ultimately affect your oral health.
To give you a better picture about this, we explain further here:
- Changes in breathing pattern – When wearing a face mask, there is a higher tendency for you to take shallow and rapid breaths as well as to breathe through your mouth. This can reduce the amount of saliva in your mouth, which ultimately leads to dry mouth.
- Low water intake – Wearing a mask can be a deterrence to your regular water consumption. A low intake of fluids in your body can lead to dehydration and it is no surprise that this is linked to dry mouth too.
- Poor airflow – Wearing a face mask can trap a higher level of carbon dioxide within the mask. This can result in a decrease of oxygen level in your blood and an increase of carbon dioxide level. Not to worry, this does not pose a serious risk to your overall health but it can cause fatigue, headaches, brain fog and there’s a higher chance that you’ll breathe through your mouth. Breathing through your mouth affects the production of saliva, leading to dry mouth, hence increasing the chance of oral inflammation, infections and periodontal diseases.
Look out for signs
Do you find your mouth getting dry and your breath starting to stink when you remove your mask after a long day?
Dry mouth and bad breath are two prominent signs of Mask Mouth. Another symptom to be aware of is bleeding gums. Bleeding gums is also a sign of gingivitis and it is important to get your gums checked by a dentist if you have this symptom.
The severity of these symptoms varies from individual to individual but not to worry, there are simple preventive measures that you can take to prevent the onset of Mask Mouth.
The benefits of wearing a face mask most definitely outweighs the unpleasant symptoms of Mask Mouth. Therefore, you’re still encouraged to wear a face mask as recommended.
To prevent Mask Mouth, here are some preventive measures:
# 1 Focus on your oral care routine
Place a strong emphasis on having a good oral care routine. Cleaning your teeth and mouth well can do wonders to prevent the buildup of bacteria in your mouth. A complete oral care routine should involve brushing your teeth at least twice a day, flossing and gargling with mouthwash. Plus, don’t forget to brush your tongue too!
#2 Stay hydrated
To prevent dry mouth, staying hydrated is key. Schedule a reminder on your phone to help you remember to drink water. Also, it’s best to limit your coffee and alcohol consumption as these beverages can contribute to dry mouth too.
#3 Keep your mouth fresh
Gargling with mouthwash helps to wash away food debris and bacteria. Therefore, keeping your breath fresh. Have a travel-sized bottle of mouthwash with you when you’re on the go. This makes it easily accessible and prevents any procrastination to keep your mouth healthy.
#4 Always put on a clean mask
It is important that you comply with the guidelines set for wearing a face mask. If you’re wearing a disposable one, do change it when needed. The Health and Safety Authority of Singapore recommends changing a face mask if it is soiled or wet. As for reusable masks, it is recommended for you to wash it daily.
#5 Visit your dentist regularly
Schedule a routine dental visit with your dentist to ensure that your teeth and gums are healthy especially if you wear a mask for long hours. If you do have any concerns or spot any changes pertaining to your dental health, a visit to your dentist would be best step to take.
Besides affecting your oral health, the symptoms of Mask Mouth can also affect your self-confidence as you worry about your breath. The good news is, the effects of Mask Mouth can be easily prevented.
Speak to our dentists at i.Dental to help you take charge of your dental health as we work together towards curbing the pandemic.