Your smile is one of your greatest attributes. Your smile lights up your entire face, greeting others and making them feel special. With mask-wearing being required many places due to COVID-19, your smile is being hidden from the world. While it is being hidden, it may also be susceptible to unwanted side effects that you need to be aware of to protect your oral health. At Smile Structure, we want you to stay healthy during this time, but we also want to help you maintain a healthy smile.
While 2020 has undoubtedly brought with it new ideas, it has also brought in new issues that people have never had to deal with before. A new condition that millions of people are at risk for developing has been dubbed “mask mouth.” Dentists across the Nation are reporting that patients are coming in with issues directly related to keeping their mouths covered for hours each day. Even healthy patients with no previous oral health issues are presenting with serious concerns such as tooth decay, receding gum lines, and severe bad breath.
Understanding how mask-wearing contributes to oral health problems can help you understand how to protect your mouth.
“Mask mouth” has been linked to three major causes:
- Mouth breathing. Unless you are exercising or exerting yourself, 80% of your oxygen intake should come through your nose. Your body was designed to inhale through your nose to prevent mouth breathing. However, most people who wear a mask for longer than three minutes find that they begin breathing in through their mouths to take in more oxygen at a time. Any type of face-covering limits your air intake.
- Dry mouth. Saliva is a necessary part of your oral health. Saliva helps to keep the mouth moist, rinsing away bacteria from the teeth continuously throughout the day. Without adequate saliva production, bacteria will grow and harden on the tooth enamel causing rapid tooth decay and gum disease. Dry mouth also leads to the development of severe halitosis or bad breath.
- Dehydration. Most people do not consume enough water as it is, but with the mouth being constantly covered with a mask or face covering, dehydration is a serious problem. Being improperly hydrated leads to dangerous issues with a person’s general health, contributing to unwanted oral health issues.
If you are required to wear a mask, or if you simply choose to, please take steps to ensure that you are protecting your oral health from mask mouth. Drink at least 8 oz of water every hour, remove your mask frequently, chew sugar-free gum throughout the day, and brush your teeth as soon as you remove your mask.
Contact Smile Structure to learn how you can better protect your smile.
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