Are we finished wearing masks now? No one knows for sure. Many Americans have invested in mask wardrobes and may need to continue wearing them while working indoors or participating in certain indoor activities. “Free-facing” or going without a mask in public, especially indoors, may not be happening as fast as most people would like. As the COVID-19 virus continues to mutate and doctors and researchers try to keep up with it and find a way to minimize its effects, the public still needs to take precautions. Wearing a mask is one of them and it is taking a toll on oral health.
Wearing a mask for hours at a time is routine for many workers these days. The masks help slow the spread of the virus. During allergy season, some individuals are also finding that wearing a mask also helps keep allergies in check. But amidst all the good news is the concern that wearing masks is also increasing certain dental health issues.
Even with Good Oral Hygiene
Good oral hygiene is one of the main preventive practices used to keep dental health problems from developing or advancing. Yet, dentists are reporting an increase in oral problems despite good oral hygiene practices of patients. The increase in cavities and gum disease is attributed to wearing masks and not making adequate adjustments for oral health.
When wearing a mask, you are more likely to breathe out of your mouth, which leads to dry mouth. When your mouth is dry, the harmful bacteria feed on the food debris that is normally washed away with saliva. Mask-wearing lowers the supply of moisture, so more food particles remain. The bacteria produce acidic waste, which dissolves the tooth enamel and causes the development of cavities.
In addition to raising the risk of dental decay, the bacteria also raise the risk of gum disease. Red, swollen or puffy gums are an indication that an infection is brewing in the gums.
Wearing a mask all day does not have to lead to mask-mouth when you make a few adjustments. First be aware of your breathing. Breathe through your nose as much as possible. Increase your water intake and be sure to keep up good oral hygiene practices. Brush your teeth well after every meal if possible and at least twice a day. Remember to floss.
Dr. Perkins and his dental team are dedicated to helping you keep your smile healthy as well as beautiful. Call today to schedule an appointment with us to keep your teeth and gums healthy.