Mask Mouth

Author: Shannon Sutton, RDH

Have you noticed bad breath odor while wearing your mask? Although mask mouth is not an actual condition alone, it is a combination of side effects that dental professionals have seen with increased mask use. We have been in a pandemic for nearly two years and wearing masks are an essential and necessary part of daily life for most people across the globe.

What is mask mouth? Mask Mouth is a combination of several different conditions caused by a few different things.

1. Dry mouth- you tend to breath more through your mouth than your nose when wearing a mask. This leads to less saliva production causing dry mouth. Your are also less likely to drink adequate water causing dehydration while wearing a mask.

2. Halitosis- less saliva leads to less natural cleansing of teeth after eating. Food gets stuck on your teeth and oral surfaces such as your tongue. This leads to halitosis aka bad breath.

3. Increased risk of tooth decay and bleeding gums- lessened salivary flow can also cause an increase in tooth decay and gingivitis. Sugars that sit on your teeth after eating and drinking don’t get washed away by the normal saliva flow. This leads to increased bacterial numbers which lead to more cavities and swollen gums.

What can you do? There are some things you can do to combat that stinky side effect.

1. Have great oral hygiene- don’t skip brushing and flossing daily. Add a mouthrinse for dry mouth to help keep your tissues moisturized if you notice prolonged dryness. You can also chew gum with xylitol sugar to help stimulate saliva.

2. Get plenty of water- try to schedule water breaks into your day, especially after eating.

3. Have good mask hygiene- to lessen bacterial exposure you should be washing reusable masks after each use or once a day. Surgical masks are single use only so they should be thrown away after each use or at the end of the day. Using a dirty mask increases your risk of bacterial exposures.

4. Avoid excess sugar and eat a well balanced diet. Less sugar means less tooth decay!
Try these tips to prevent and stop those nasty side effects that can occur with frequent mask use! Hope this helps you!