According to Doctor Aragona Giuseppe, GP and medical advisor at Prescription Doctor, mask mouth is a new term which has been coined to describe what is happening to your mouth during and after wearing a mask.
“Mask mouth is a new term which has been coined to describe what is happening to your mouth during and after wearing a mask. Having a covering over your mouth for a long period of time may cause various different oral issues, most of which can be prevented as long as you make sure you keep up with your usual dental routine,” he said.
It’s slowly but surely becoming mandatory to wear face masks in many public spaces and whilst it’s essential for protecting everyone’s wellbeing in the fight against Coronavirus, wearing a mask for long periods of time can have its downsides.
As well as ‘maskne’, a type of acne which appears around the cheeks, chin and mouth due to wearing a sweaty mask, doctors are warning of ‘mask mouth’ – teeth troubles which develop from wearing a mask.
Decaying teeth, receding gum lines and sour breath are all symptoms of mask mouth and if you find yourself with these you should deal with them immediately.
“Wearing a mask may increase your chances of developing oral issues such as decaying teeth, receding gums and sour breath because it is preventing vital oral habits that need to be maintained to ensure a healthy mouth such as flossing and drinking plenty of water,” he explained.
“However the main issue with wearing these masks is that most people tend to breathe through their mouth as oppose to their nose whilst wearing them which can mean your mouth becomes dry and a dry mouth increases the risk of tooth decay, gum problems and other oral diseases. This is because the saliva that is needed to keep your mouth healthy is lost, and saliva is imperative as it contains many anti-fungal properties such as histatins, lactoferrin and lysozyme which work to kill off any bad bacteria that causes decay. Wearing a mask also promotes bad breath because it means a decrease in water consumption throughout the day purely because of inconvenience or not being able to take off PPE easily, and water is imperative to flush away food particles and keep the mouth clean to prevent bad breath and other dental problems.”
So how can you protect your oral health whilst wearing a mask? The expert has several suggestions…
Floss after each meal
Food trapped between teeth is one of the main causes of bad breath, cavities and gum disease so it’s essential that you floss throughout the day after each time you eat. If you are working in a job where you have to wear a mask or PPE gear, make sure that you allow yourself an extra 5 minutes at the end of your breakfast and lunch to floss to ensure your mouth is clean before putting the mask back on. You may also want to brush or use mouthwash throughout the day also.
Up your usual oral hygiene
Your oral hygiene should be a priority anyway but even more so whilst wearing a mask. You should be brushing your teeth for at least 2-3 minutes each morning and evening, I would advise using an electric toothbrush to ensure a thorough clean. You should be flossing throughout the day after you eat, and morning and evening. Mouthwash is advisable to try and prevent bad breath.
Keep your mask clean
If your breathing constantly into your mask it’s likely that it will become teaming with bacteria from various factors; food particles, breath, sweat and dirt. If used every day this could promote dental issues due to the bacteria entering the lips and mouth area. I would advise changing your mask daily to ensure proper hygiene and washing reusable masks on a hot wash with detergent.
Get fresh air
Taking regular breaks from wearing a mask and allowing fresh air to enter your mouth is imperative for keeping it clean and healthy. If you are wearing a mask out and about and are in a space far away from others even just pulling it down and taking a few big deep breaths of air should help.
Drink plenty of water
Drinking water throughout the day will help to keep your mouth area clean and wash away any food particles sitting in the teeth, gums and any other areas of the mouth. You should have a drink of water after each time you eat to flush away any food particles, and also after every coffee so that the caffeine does not sit in your mouth and on your tongue promoting both bad breath and stains.