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          Potential oral and dental issues while wearing a face mask

          The coronavirus pandemic has changed the world in so many aspects and on so many different levels. One of those being us all needing to wear protective face masks to safeguard ourselves and others when we leave our homes. Although the face mask definitely helps to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus, it doesn’t come without a new list of potential problems.

          One observation is that some are having allergic reactions to different mask materials, or that acne and other skin disorders around the area where the mask is in contact with the skin has become common.

          The mask-wearing in itself is not a direct threat to your oral health.

          A new expression has also been minted amongst dental professionals: mask mouth. Mask mouth is not an official diagnosis but refers to an increase in oral issues as a potential effect of wearing a mask. The mask-wearing in itself is not a direct threat to your oral health, but habits that may come as an effect of wearing the mask are causing the issues.

          Many find that wearing a face mask causes them to breathe more through their mouth than before, and this is where the problems start.

          Mouth breathing is well-known to cause issues such as dryness of the mouth, bad breath, increase in dental cavities, and gum recession.
          Young woman with mask

          The saliva is vital to maintain a healthy environment in your mouth as it contains a number of natural ingredients that help protect you from dental and oral issues. When the mouth dries out, these ingredients/factors decrease or disappear, and bacteria can thrive, multiply fast and start causing trouble. This is something that we have observed and known for many years as many medicines and medical conditions/health issues can result in a dry mouth, also known as, xerostomia.

          Any solutions to the problem with mask mouth?

          When wearing a mask, try to breathe more through your nose. Make sure the mask is sitting well and not too far down your nose, as it can otherwise obstruct the air passage.

          Always make sure you use a clean mask as a dirty one can house large number of bacteria and even food particles, that you then start breathing back into your mouth.

          Drink plenty of water. The power of pure still water is hugely underestimated. Water helps to dilute toxins and acids produced by the bacteria. Water can also help to rinse away food debris after a meal. Sadly, carbonated water is causing the opposite effect as it is highly acidic and can make acid-producing bacteria MORE active due to a more acidic environment in your mouth.

          Clean your mouth often and thoroughly (but not aggressively). Use floss regularly and avoid sugary drinks and food as much as possible. Sugar-free chewing gum stimulates saliva production (remember, saliva is good for your mouth) and you even get a slightly cleaning effect by chewing the gum. This has been well-known amongst dental professionals for many years.

          Visit your dentist and dental hygienist more often to check the health of your mouth and teeth and to get your teeth professionally cleaned.

          A good oral health is always necessary but has become more so now during the coronavirus pandemic.