Mask Mouth: Oral Hygiene and Wearing a Mask

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact our daily way of life, wearing a mask is an important tool to stop the spread of the virus. Wearing a mask for extended periods daily, however, can begin to have an impact on your skin and oral health. There has been an increase in patients seeking medical and dental care as a result of what is being called “mask mouth”.

What causes mask mouth?

Related to the term “meth mouth”, mask mouth refers to the changes in your dental health as a result of wearing a mask without adjusting your oral hygiene to accommodate the common side effects. These include mouth breathing as a result of the nose being covered, dry mouth and bad breath or halitosis. All of these common problems can be exacerbated by extensive mask-wearing. Other effects can include bacterial infections around the mouth and increased skin breakouts.

When we are wearing a mask, the natural tendency is to breathe through the mouth instead of the nose. Over time, this can cause the mouth to dry out and saliva production is decreased. Dry mouth can lead to not just bad breath, but an increased risk for gum disease and decay. If left untreated the effects of dry mouth can include receding gums, advancing periodontal disease, and tooth decay.

What are the signs of mask mouth?

The dental health effects of mask-wearing will likely go unnoticed for some time for most patients. It is not until there is some level of discomfort due to developing infection that patients will seek dental care. That is why routine visits to your dentist remain important and are of even greater significance in today’s pandemic environment. Dr. Doray and our dental care team will look for signs of problems during your routine dental exam and can offer personalized oral hygiene guidance and advice for anyone needing to wear a mask for several hours at a time daily.

Common solutions to help avoid mask mouth include:

  • Hydrate more often- remove your mask and drink water throughout the day to keep your mouth hydrated and remove bacteria from teeth and gums.
  • Brush and floss daily.
  • Minimize added sugar in your diet if eating and then wearing a mask for an extended period.
  • Use a tongue scraper when brushing your teeth to remove excess bacteria on the tongue.

It is important to note that smoking can increase the effects of mask mouth. If you smoke, be aware of dryness in the mouth, and be sure to visit with us regularly for dental exams and cleanings.