Combatting So-Called “Mask Mouth”

There have been innumerable changes to our daily lives throughout the last year. Not the least of which has been the introduction of a certain garment worn over the face. Putting politics aside, there are a number of situations where you may find yourself wearing a mask for long periods of time (i.e. in a public workspace). While necessary in your circumstances, wearing a mask for unbroken hours each day may present some oral health affects you may not be aware of.

Enter: Mask Mouth, the villain.

Read on to learn more about this historically unique problem and what you, and your dentist, can do to mitigate it.

Did you say “mask mouth?”

Yes, “mask mouth” is a condition recognized by the Canadian Dental Association and the University of Alberta’s School of Dentistry has referenced the term as well. In an April 2021 article, Periodontist Liran Levin characterizes “mask mouth” by stating:

Some people tend to breathe through their mouth when wearing a mask, and this dries out the oral cavity…This leads to more cavities, inflammation and gum disease.

Even oral health juggernaut, Colgate, has contributed to public awareness of mask mouth by devoting a page of their website to the issue. Colgate’s contributions expand on the definition by stating mask mouth can be caused by “disrupted breathing patterns”, “dehydration”, and “recycling air” – all very serious issues that have a tremendous impact on your oral health over time.

What can I do to mitigate the issues if I have to wear a mask for long segments of my day?

Thankfully, while mask mouth may cause some serious oral health issues, combatting it is also straightforward! In fact, many remedies are more proactive than reactive.

  • All three of the above authorities agree that staying hydrated is key. The CDA helpfully states that “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.”
  • Colgate recommends keeping your dentist recommended mouthwash on hand. “Keep a mouthwash on hand to freshen your breath and fight bacteria between cleanings. Ask your dental professional to recommend a mouthwash that does not exacerbate dry mouth.”
  • And if you’re worried about going to your Dentist’s office for a visit, Dr. Levin has some comforting words for you: “Dental offices are one of the safest areas to be in during COVID. Infection prevention control is in our [dental practice] DNA. Current COVID infection control and restrictions only enhanced the already strict protocols we have in place. It is very safe to come to the dental office.”

The most important mitigation tactic is to maintain or increase excellent oral hygiene practices.

For some of us, getting the ball rolling on those practices consistently is much greater challenge than mask mouth. However, because your dentist is invested in your oral health, especially here at North Central Dental, you don’t have to fight the mask mouth villain on your own.

Check out our blog – it’s a free resource that may help you combat other non-mask mouth related issues. You can also contact us to schedule an appointment and your Dentist will be happy to help you take charge of your oral health.