Along with hand washing and social distancing, face masks are a significant part of keeping each other safe as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Although masks are an indispensable part of staying healthy, frequent use might alert you to bad breath or other dental concerns.
After months of wearing masks every day, you may be wondering: will wearing a mask affect my dental health, and if so, what can I do about it?
Here are our recommendations for keeping up with dental health during the pandemic and beyond.
What Your Mask Can Tell You About Your Dental Health
While wearing a mask will not damage your dental health, it can signal underlying issues related to your teeth and gums. Think of your mask as an opportunity to keep an eye on your dental hygiene. If you notice consistent halitosis or dryness, it might be time to reevaluate your care routine.
Notice a bad smell trapped in your mask every time you exhale? Chances are you’re dealing with a buildup of bacteria in your mouth. While bad breath on its own is certainly an annoyance, the real concern is that a buildup of bacteria may lead to cavities, gingivitis, or other health concerns.
Does wearing a mask make it hard to hydrate? In terms of oral care, drinking plenty of water helps flush out bacteria and increases saliva production. A dry mouth can lead to increased bacteria and cavities.
Shortness of Breath
If you notice you’re often short of breath while wearing your mask, consider switching to a more breathable (but equally effective) fabric, like cotton. Difficulty breathing can increase how much you breathe through your mouth, which contributes to dryness.
Gingivitis or gum disease are unwanted consequences of dryness and bacteria buildup. Tender and / or bleeding gums when you brush or floss might be a sign that something is off-kilter in your mouth.
What You Can Do to Take Care of Your Mouth
Keeping up with your dental health just requires some care and consistency. After all, wearing a mask might be drawing your attention to areas of your personal care that could use some tweaking.
Focus on the Basics
- Brush Your Teeth – Good dental care is as easy as brushing your teeth and flossing every day. Try to establish a rhythm and stick with it. If a regular toothbrush isn’t up to snuff, switch to an electric toothbrush for a more thorough clean.
- Use Mouthwash – Experiment with using mouthwash after meals to help eliminate unwanted bacteria buildup. Mouthwash should not be a substitute for brushing and flossing, but can be a great additional preventative measure.
- Use a Tongue Scraper / Brush Your Tongue – Keeping your mouth clean isn’t just about your teeth. Your tongue might be the culprit for your bad breath. Incorporate brushing your tongue into your routine or use a tongue scraper in the morning.
A key component of dental health—and health in general—is staying hydrated. Since wearing a mask can make drinking more difficult, it’s especially important to keep hydration in mind as a goal.
- Set an Alarm – Keep forgetting to drink while you’re working at your desk? Set a reminder on your phone to go off a couple times per day.
- Set a Goal – Sometimes having a goal is a helpful way to stick to a new habit. Set an intention for how much water you need to drink per day.
- Use a Water Bottle – Get yourself a nice reusable water bottle you enjoy and bring it with you everywhere. There’s no excuse when you have water at the ready!
Replace Your Mask
A good rule of thumb for overall health is to replace your mask frequently. If you’re using a washable mask, give it a spin in the washing machine to rid it of any bacteria. This will ensure you’re not unintentionally exposing yourself to the coronavirus, and will also help keep your breath clean and air circulation fresh.
Visit Your Dentist
Part of an effective care routine is regularly visiting the dentist. In addition to regular cleanings, your dentist will be able to give you advice on managing bad breath and staying on top of oral care.
At Treasured Smiles Adult and Cosmetic Dentistry, you can expect top notch care in a comfortable and professional environment. Treasured Smiles Adult and Cosmetic Dentistry offers a variety of services including routine cleanings, digital imaging, cosmetic services, and restorative treatments. Working with our team, you can stay on top of your dental health and craft a care plan that works for you.
Wearing a mask doesn’t need to affect your dental health. Luckily, with some simple hygiene, hydration, and access to professional care, it’s easy to keep your mouth feeling healthy and fresh.