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Mask Mouth

Dr. M. Prasad, Thursday, March 11, 2021

Mask mouth

Now that dentists have reopened their doors, they’re having patients show up with a nasty set of symptoms, which the doctors have dubbed “mask mouth.”

The new oral hygiene issue — caused by, you guessed it, wearing a mask all the time to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Using face masks has increased the dryness in our mouth which helps bacteria and viruses propagate. Our saliva serves as a protective barrier and has antimicrobial components that help fight bacteria. It also takes part in the mucosal immune system of our body that prevents viruses from entering directly onto the surface of our body. 

When we wear masks, it partially closes the nasal airway and we tend to breathe through our mouth leading to mouth breathing which causes dry mouth problem more over when we wear masks we tend to drink less water leading to dehydration,, both of these issues cause problems in the oral cavity

The decrease in the flow of saliva in our mouth not only breeds stinky breath but can also put our overall health in danger.

Saliva is vital to maintaining fantastic oral health, so if you get a dry mouth, you might find that your teeth get damaged as saliva dries up and is no longer able to act as the protective barrier from bacterial and viral infestations. The symptoms of mask mouth aren’t dangerous on their own, but they can cause lasting damage leading to all kinds of dental problems like

Increases tooth decay

Due to the dryness in the mouth caused by face masks, there is not enough saliva to flush food particles in our teeth. With bacteria thriving in the presence of sugar, they will start to breed from the food particles and cause tooth decay.

Inflamed gums

Inflammation is our immune system’s response to the attack of bacteria and viruses. It is never a good sign and can mean that the abundance of bacteria in our mouth is attacking the gums due to the lack of antimicrobial components of saliva. If left untreated, it can lead to periodontal disease.

Bad breath

Halitosis or bad breath is due to the odour-causing bacteria present in our mouth and prolonged dryness in the mouth makes it worse. You may notice this when there’s a change in the smell of your breath whenever you’re wearing a facemask for hours and your mouth starts to dry up.

Gum disease

Gum disease is an irreversible dental condition and requires lifetime care. It can start with a dry mouth or plaque buildup and slowly damages the gums and bone structure in the mouth. It begins without early warning signs or pain and only becomes apparent when symptoms like receding and inflamed gums start to show.

These diseases seem to be more amplified in diabetic patients since they are prone to dry mouth and infections,

Patients who have recovered from Covid -19 and have been on prolonged use of steroid show compromised immunity which makes them more susceptible to fungal infections which are aggressive in nature

These problems are only diagnosed when patients visit the dental clinic with a complaint of bad odor because of wearing the mask and come to realize their debilitating oral health

Ways to prevent the damage to oral health include

Dental professionals recommend breathing through the nose, keep drinking ample amount of water, maintaining oral hygiene, brushing regularly and flossing to avoid dry mouth and the dental problems that come with it. 

If you can’t avoid wearing a mask, then you should try to take regular breaks and get some fresh air during the day. When you don’t have to wear your mask, take it off and breathe in the fresh air to refresh your mouth.

Improving your oral hygiene routine will help you to deal with any symptoms that you might notice.

As well as improving the cleanliness of your teeth, it would help if you also kept your mask clean. Wearing a dirty mask is worse than wearing a clean one, as you’ll spread more bacteria. A dirty mask will also hoard bacteria and food particles, which you might then breathe back into your mouth. Wash your mask regularly, and if you have to wear one at work, consider carrying a spare so that you always have a clean mask close at hand.

In a pandemic, we can’t afford any risk that can make us sick. Regular visits to the dentist to get the required treatment for the damage which has already been done.

But, hey, there is a brighter side to it. Unlike the one thing that the world collectively hates today (COVID-19), these problems can be fixed. And it's pretty easy, all you have to do is:

Dental cleanings: can help break down the plaque buildup in your teeth that causes tooth decay and gum disease.

Gum disease treatments: If the bacteria has already started to damage your gums, we can prevent the bacteria from spreading with our treatments.

Fillings and restoration: When the bacteria has started to damage your teeth, we can still fix your teeth and rebuild your smile.

Apart from visiting your dentist regularly other means like using salivary stimulators like chewing gums to increase the saliva flow seem to work

Neglecting your oral hygiene isn't the new normal, just wearing a mask and social distancing is.

Ensure you keep yourself safe for the mask to then defend.

Dr. M. Prasad

Consultant Dental Surgeon

KIMS Hospitals. 



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