A California city councilwoman recently made headlines for stating that wearing protective face masks can cause oral health problems, including cavities, periodontitis, and halitosis. This naturally may have left some people concerned about their own oral health while wearing a mask, but here’s the real truth about covering up during the COVID-19 epidemic.
While mask breath is definitely a common issue, is the mask really causing your bad breath? Experts say no. What’s most likely happening to cause mask breath is that you are becoming more aware of pre-existing halitosis is because your breath is trapped in your mask, along with your nose, so you are smelling your own bad breath. Bad mask breath can be combated by excellent oral hygiene, including brushing twice a day for two minutes each time and flossing once a day, preferably in the evening. If you still notice bad breath, you can try tongue scraping, mouthwashes, or sugar-free mints, or speak to your dentist as bad breath could signal a more serious problem such as cavities or gum disease.
Gum disease is caused by bacteria that enter the gums at the gumline. This bacteria accumulates and can enter the bloodstream through the gums, worsening other problems in the body, including Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes. It can also cause tooth loss, receding gums, and bone deterioration. But can it be caused by wearing a mask? Again, experts call foul on this claim. Gum disease is caused by poor oral hygiene – not by wearing a mask. If you have gum disease and wear a mask, chances are you had gum disease before you began wearing your mask. If you believe you may have gum disease due to bleeding gums or red swollen gums, please contact Dr. Abelar’s office to be seen. If caught early, gum disease is very treatable.
Cavities are caused by bacteria that feed on a dental plaque on your teeth. As they eat, they produce an acid that wears away at your tooth enamel, causing cavities. Not wearing your mask won’t prevent cavities. What will prevent cavities is brushing and flossing.
The Bottom Line
Wearing a mask is very important during the COVID-19 pandemic. Remember, if masks caused the many problems suggested above, then most surgeons and medical professionals who wear masks every day even during safer times would have poor oral health, which simply isn’t the case. Masks don’t cause dental problems: poor hygiene causes dental problems. So keep smiling, even under that mask, and remember to take care of those teeth!