During the pandemic, we have been wearing masks over our mouths to prevent the virus’s spread. We have noticed several behaviors related to the face coverings that may lead to oral health problems.
The term “meth mouth” is a name used by dentists to depict methamphetamine users. Users often have sugar-cravings, teeth grinding, and jaw clenching. Often addicts end up with stained or decayed teeth due to the sugar cravings, teeth grinding, jaw clenching, and periodontal disease.
“Mask mouth” is not as apparent. However, the results can be similar. We are not visibly showing our mouth, so, some may have the tendency to skip daily oral cleaning. Wearing a mask leads to dry mouth. Dry mouth, or Xerostomia, is caused by insufficient saliva flow in the mouth. When your mouth is covered, one tends to breathe through the mouth, increasing the mouth’s dryness and bacteria builds-up more readily.
It seems that most people breathe through their mouth instead of their nose while wearing a mask. Mouth breathing causes a decrease in saliva, a natural defense mechanism of the mouth to fight bacteria and clean your teeth. Also, saliva neutralizes acid in the mouth and prevents gum disease and decay. If you can smell your breath you probably have a type of gum problem that we need to examine.
What can you do?
- Actively try to breathe through your nose all the time, but especially while wearing your mask.
- Resolve to drink more water to enhance the saliva flow.
- Brush and rinse your teeth twice a day.
- Floss your teeth once a day.
- Use a tongue scraper or brush your tongue.
- If you drink coffee or alcohol, also drink water with these beverages as they tend to dry the mouth.
- Invest in a humidifier to moisten the air.
- Don’t smoke or Vape.
Following the above hints will help prevent the “mask mouth.”
Hopefully, the pandemic will be over soon, and life will get back to normal. In the meantime, stay well.