2020 has been a year like none other. Even people who have lived for 70+ years are saying they have never experienced anything like it. With the COVID-19 pandemic that has swept the globe, people have been forced to stay at home, limit contact with others, and wear a mask out in public. Without debating the effectiveness of mask-wearing, it is important to understand that wearing a mask is not ideal for your oral health. It is essential that you understand the adverse effects to your smile from mask-wearing so you can take necessary precautions to keep your mouth healthy.
Dentists across America have reported that many patients are coming into their practices with serious oral health issues directly related to mask-wearing. This condition has been dubbed “mask mouth,” and it is definitely a problem never seen in the U.S. before 2020.
Dental patients who have had healthy smiles all of their lives have been coming in for regular dental appointments only to learn that they are suffering from tooth decay, gum recession, gum disease, and severe halitosis. Patients who have suffered from dental issues are finding that their conditions are worse than before, and all of these oral health concerns are being linked to wearing masks over the mouth for hours a day.
Mammals were designed to breathe in approximately 80% of their oxygen through the nose. Breathing in through the nose helps the mouth retain moisture that it needs from saliva production. While saliva is not the first thing you think of in terms of oral health, it is necessary to wash harmful bacteria away from the teeth and gums. Mask-wearing limits normal breathing, encouraging people to breathe through their mouths because the mask limits their oxygen intake. Also, wearing a mask prevents people from drinking water. Most people do not consume adequate amounts of water as it is, and wearing a mask further limits people’s water consumption.
In order to combat the negative oral health effects of mask-wearing, take these steps:
- Chew sugar-free gum throughout the day to keep your mouth moist.
- Set a timer on your phone or watch to remind you to drink a little bit of water every 20 minutes. Make it your goal to consume at least 8oz of water every hour.
- Take your mask off frequently so that you can breathe in through your nose.
- Brush your teeth as soon as possible after wearing a mask to clean your teeth and gums thoroughly.
At ConfiDENT, we know that 2020 has been a roller coaster for all of us. We want to help ensure that your smile stays healthy, so please contact us for any concerns or questions regarding your oral health.