During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to protect yourself and others by wearing a mask or face covering when:
- you are in public and you might come into close contact with others; or
- you are in shared indoor spaces with others from outside your immediate household.
A common side effect from extended mask wearing is known as "mask mouth" or simply, bad breath.
Causes of "Mask Mouth"
If you are experiencing "mask mouth" or bad breath under your mask, there is likely an imbalance of bacteria in your mouth.
Mask wearing, combined with factors such as not drinking enough water; consuming too much sugar; and/or drinking too many acidic beverages such as coffee, can feed the bacteria (plaque and tartar) in your mouth. A build-up of plaque and tartar can increase your risk of developing cavities, gum disease and/or tooth decay.
How to Prevent "Mask Mouth"
The most effective ways to prevent "mask mouth" include:
- Keep up with good oral hygiene habits;
- Consume healthy foods and drinks; and
- Visit your dentist regularly.
Oral health is part of your overall health and well-being. It is important to take the time and effort to brush and floss every day and consume healthy nutrition. These healthy habits are good for you and it can help you stay fresh under your mask.
Tips to Stay Fresh Under Your Mask
Brush your teeth twice a day to keep your mouth clean and free of bacteria that leads to cavities and gum disease. Wait 30 minutes after eating before you brush to avoid damaging your enamel.
Floss at least once a day, or after snacking. Flossing gets to places your toothbrush cannot reach and removes bacteria that can cause bad breath.
Depending on what you eat, your tongue can hold food residue. Be sure to give it a good brush or scrape to help keep your breath fresh.
As part of your morning oral health routine and before you put your mask on, swish with an oral rinse or mouthwash once a day. This will help keep the bacteria that cause odours at bay. Always use mouthwashes without alcohol which can further dry and damage sensitive tissues. To find the right oral health products for your needs, check out this list of products that have earned the CDA Seal. The CDA Seal helps consumers know which oral health benefit claims made by a manufacturer have been independently reviewed and are supported by scientific evidence.
Choosing healthy drinks is as important as healthy foods. Make water your drink of choice and reduce your intake of sugary drinks and sweets which could contribute to tooth decay.
Staying hydrated with flat water is the best way to keep your mouth moisturized and to neutralize any leftover acid and wash away debris from food and beverages. Some medications may cause dry mouth, which allows bacteria to multiply faster. Ask your dentist about it.
A balanced and nutritious diet is good for your general health and your dental health. Without the right nutrients, your teeth and gums can become more susceptible to decay and gum disease. See these tips for healthy nutrition, reducing sugar in your diet, and making water your drink of choice.
Reduce Alcohol, and Plan to Stop Smoking or Vaping
Over-indulging in these habits can lead to dry mouth, inflammation, enamel damage, staining and even oral cancer. Please talk to your dentist about how tobacco is affecting your oral and overall health and make a plan to quit today.