It is a well-known fact that face masks are an effective way of protecting us against the transmission of COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019), but is wearing a face mask responsible for a rise in dental problems? According to a recent report, dentists are indeed seeing a growing trend of increased dental problems, such as bad breath, gum disease, and tooth decay, due to the usage of face masks.
Coined “mask mouth,” the oral-health problems associated with wearing a face mask are thought to be a new and increasing issue. People who previously had healthy teeth and gums are now experiencing unusual and unexpected dental problems such as receding gums and other signs of gum disease. The increase in dental problems is not thought to result merely from unhygienic oral practices, but by factors linked to the wearing of face masks on a daily basis.
According to research carried out by the New York Post, dentists believe the reason behind this growing problem is that wearing a face mask can increase the dryness in our mouths, which can “help bacteria and viruses to propagate.” Saliva helps to naturally fight bacteria by neutralizing acids in the mouth, by serving as a protective barrier for our teeth, and by flushing out and preventing the buildup of cavity-causing food particles – but without the normal flow of saliva in the mouth, it can lead to tooth decay over time. A reduction in saliva can also lead to bad breath, and wearing face masks appears to impede our natural saliva production.
There are thought to be other factors also contributing to mask mouth, including a tendency to drink less water when wearing a mask and the fact that people are more prone to breathing through their mouths to increase inhalation capacity – which can cause a progressively dry mouth. An increase in the overall consumption of alcohol and caffeine during lockdowns, along with unhealthy food choices and poor eating habits, are also believed to be responsible for the recent increase in dental problems.
Should I Still Wear a Face Mask?
Although there are concerns about face masks potentially affecting oral health, during the current pandemic, a face mask is necessary for your overall health. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) believes face masks are one of the most effective ways to control the spread of COVID-19. It recommends that everyone over the age of 2 (apart from those who are exempt for health reasons) should wear a face mask when out in public, particularly when indoors, in order to protect themselves and others from transmission of the virus.
In order to keep your mouth and teeth healthy and to reduce your risk of dental problems (particularly during the pandemic), it is important to maintain good oral hygiene. This includes brushing and flossing your teeth twice daily, having routine cleanings and dental checks with your dentist, eating a healthy diet, drinking plenty of water, limiting caffeine and alcohol consumption, not smoking, and using mouthwash.
Always seek advice from your dentist promptly if you experience any dental concerns, because delaying treatment can lead to more serious oral problems.
Comprehensive Dental Care in Zelienople, PA
At Marion Smile Center, caring for your whole family’s oral health is our number one priority. Our highly skilled dentist, Dr. Mark A. Marion, and our team of dental hygienists offer general, restorative, and cosmetic dental care for all ages in order to keep your teeth, mouth, and gums healthy and in great condition.
For comprehensive dental care in Butler County and the North Hills area of Pittsburgh, contact our Zelienople office today at (724) 452-4300 or request an appointment online. We look forward to seeing you!