For over a year, some people have been wearing masks due to the pandemic. With the new strain causing more uncertainty, some people will continue to wear masks. While there seems to be debate as to the efficacy of mask wearing during different phases of the virus threat, one thing is certain. Wearing a mask all day can affect your oral health.
Some individuals have already noticed that their teeth do not seem to be in the best condition. Even people who practice great oral hygiene are experiencing problems with their teeth. There are a few reasons why your teeth and gums may not be faring so well through the pandemic.
Without knowing it, most people who must constantly wear a mask are breathing through their mouth more than usual. This causes the mouth to be drier than normal. Your saliva plays an important role in your oral health. It is constantly bathing your teeth and gums in moisture and consequently washing away harmful bacteria that live in your mouth.
These bacteria feed on the food debris that is left on teeth and gums after eating. Normally this debris would be washed away with saliva, but when you breathe through the mouth, the saliva level is significantly decreased. Acid waste is produced by these bacteria, and this is the process by which cavities begin to develop.
Not only is the risk of dental caries increased, but gum disease is also more likely to occur due to the same bacteria. If your gums are red or bright pink and swollen or puffy, you are probably in the early stages of gingivitis. They may bleed when you brush or floss your teeth. Neglecting to have this condition addressed can lead to serious dental problems in the future.
Dentists are seeing an increase in dental problems with individuals who must wear a mask for hours at a time. Mask-mouth is a new term for this problem. There are steps you can take to minimize the harm caused by dry mouth:
- Be aware of your breathing; breathe through your nose as much as possible. There are plastic mask guards available which may help with this.
- Stay hydrated. You should be drinking plenty of water during the warm days of summer anyway, but you may want to increase that intake to help keep moisture in your mouth.
- Maintain good oral hygiene. Be sure to brush your teeth after every meal, if possible, but at least twice a day and do not forget to floss your teeth.
- Limit your sugar intake. Sugar acts as a catalyst for the development of cavities. Choose water over juice and soda whenever possible.
Mask-mouth is a real thing, and no one really knows if or for how long we will need to wear masks now and in the future. Envision Dental is here to help you maintain your best oral health. Call us and schedule an appointment for a dental examination to ensure your mouth is healthy.