At our dental practice in Firestone, Colorado, our doctors hope that all of our patients remain healthy and safe during these uncertain times. As vaccinations begin to help push back against the ongoing pandemic, we must continue to remain vigilant in our practicing of social distancing and mask wearing to help reduce the spread of the disease.
While wearing a mask remains an important part of protecting yourself and the community against the spread of COVID-19, it can negatively impact your oral health if you don’t pay attention to the warning signs.
How can wearing a mask harm your oral health? Let’s take a look at a few complications that can arise by having to wear a mask throughout the day.
When wearing a mask, you’re more likely to breathe through the mouth rather than your nose as usual. Mouth breathing leads to the development of dry mouth and the production of less saliva.
Saliva acts as the body’s natural defense mechanism against harmful oral bacteria that works to threaten the long-term health of your teeth and gums. When saliva levels remain high, the mouth has an easier time flushing food particles and harmful oral bacteria away from the surface of your teeth and gums. But when dealing with dry mouth, your teeth and gums become far more susceptible to the effects of dental decay and disease.
Chronic Bad Breath
Breathing recycled air and having a dry mouth can lead to the development of bad breath. With salvia levels low, food particles can remain in the mouth long enough to begin to actively decay. Obviously, decaying food produces a potent aroma that can quickly spoil how your breath smells. Even if wearing a mask may help to keep others from smelling your breath, it does mean you’ll be forced to smell what you ate for lunch the entire day.
Extended use of a face mask can create the type of environment that leads to excessive growth of harmful oral bacteria. The more hospitable your mouth becomes to harmful oral bacteria, the more likely you’re to develop gingivitis, an early stage of gum disease. Gingivitis causes gum tissue to become inflamed, leading to gums that are swollen, bleed easily, and become uncomfortable to the touch.
Dentists from around the country have started to report seeing a higher rate of tooth decay and cavities among patients. Some of this may be due to wearing a mask, as we’ve outlined above. However, research suggests there could be a different reason.
One recent study found that living under a pandemic-related lockdown has caused 40 percent of those surveyed to simply give up on maintaining the same standard of care when it comes to their daily oral hygiene routine. Researchers found that respondents were less likely to brush and floss with the same regularity, and that attention to their overall personal hygiene was far lower than pre-pandemic levels.
Not going into the office or being around coworkers on a daily basis can certainly contribute to some of this, but it does indicate a more troubling trend. Depression is leading some people to simply not care about their oral health.
As patients who visit our dental practice in Firestone, Colorado know, the health of your teeth and gums plays a significant role in determining our overall health. By neglecting oral hygiene habits now, you set yourself up for experiencing more oral health problems once the pandemic has come to an end.
Dealing with Mask Mouth
While wearing a mask everyday can present some challenges to your oral health, the benefits the practice has on protecting your health and the health of the community makes wearing a mask more than worth the risk.
Fortunately, you can work to prevent all of the risks associated with wearing a mask by renewing and strengthening your oral hygiene habits. By continuing to brush twice a day, flossing daily, and continuing to visit our dental practice in Firestone, Colorado, you can continue to wear a mask safely until the day a vaccine allows all of us to start smiling in public again.