For many Americans, “free-facing” or going without a mask in public is a thing of the past. It may not happen again for quite a while, especially as the COVID-19 virus continues to mutate into different strains. Meanwhile, constantly wearing a mask also has its issues when it comes to oral health.
Wearing a mask all day is now routine for many, if not most, workers. CDC guidelines continue to recommend mask-wearing to help slow the spread of the virus, and it seems to be working. Along with that good news is the bad news that constant mask-wearing seems to increase the opportunity for certain oral health problems to develop.
Not Always an Oral Hygiene Issue
Dentists are reporting an increase in dental issues regardless of the level of oral hygiene. This has been linked to wearing face masks. The reasoning here is that wearing a mask makes it more likely that you will breathe out of your mouth. This practice dries the mouth out quickly, and with an inadequate supply of saliva for moisture, oral health problems begin to develop.
Dry mouth allows the bacteria in your mouth to feed on food debris that normally would be washed away with an abundance of saliva. When moisture is in short supply, the particles of food debris remain. The bacteria produce acidic waste as they feed, and the acid dissolves the tooth enamel resulting in cavities.
In addition to cavities, the bacteria can also irritate the gums. The overabundance of oral bacteria caused by wearing a mask can eventually lead to gum disease. Without treatment, gingivitis develops into periodontitis which can destroy the bone structure supporting your teeth and your gums.
Avoiding Mask Mouth
You can still wear your mask and keep your mouth healthy by paying attention to your breathing. Breathing through your nose as much as possible. People have a tendency not to drink as much water while wearing a mask. Increasing your water intake will help considerably. Keep up good oral hygiene and be sure to brush your teeth after eating if possible, and at least twice a day. Also, remember to floss your teeth.
Your dentists at Pine Ridge Dental are committed to helping you keep your oral health at its best. Schedule an appointment with us to ensure your teeth and gums are disease-free.