Mask Mouth is real… Now that we may not be wearing masks daily we as dental professionals are seeing an increase in mouth breathing, bleeding gums, and cavities. Wearing masks for so long created new habits.
It’s not an official diagnosis, but it has become a common phrase used to describe the rise in dental problems we are seeing as a result of increased mask-wearing.
While wearing a mask may have been important for public safety, we also need to make sure that we keep our teeth clean and our mouths healthy.
Here is my take on the subject. I have been wearing a mask for over 30 years. It wasn’t until I started wearing two masks when seeing patients that I noticed how it was affecting me personally. In June when we went back to work and started seeing patients again with the new protocols I started feeling lightheaded, very tired, had a dry mouth and a sore throat because of wearing a mask so much longer.
What is it about mask-wearing that made me feel this way and puts us all at greater risk for disease?
The biggest issue about wearing a mask is that it encourages you to breathe through your mouth. We are drinking less throughout the day and are pinching the mask around our nose which in turn causes open mouth breathing. We stop using our noses, breathing through your mouth creates shallow breathing, lessens your saliva, which dries your mouth and gums causing bleeding gums, less saliva also leads to more tooth decay. Knocking our pH out of balance and less saliva creates the perfect breeding ground for bacteria to get into new places as well as the grooves, nooks, and crannies of our teeth, we then eat and feed the bacteria sugar. The sugar and bacteria create an acid that weakens the enamel and eats away the tooth!
I put together a list of things that you can do to help promote a healthy mouth.
My hope for you is that you are aware and are focusing on nose breathing under your mask, today and every day!
We cannot live without breathing and for the most part, we breathe unconsciously. It’s a natural, instinctive action of our body; that we don’t give much thought to.
We are fortunate to have two different modes of breathing, our nose and/or our mouth. However, most people are unaware that we are intended to breathe through our noses. There are some exceptions, but that is another discussion.
Did you know when we are born, for the first few months, we actually don’t have the ability to breathe through our mouths. The airways of babies have not fully developed so they don’t have the reflexes to breathe through their mouths.
Each part of our body has a function. An obvious function of the nose is to breathe, and an obvious function of the mouth is to eat. Even though we can breathe through our mouths... we should Not!
We don’t want to totally discredit mouth breathing. It clearly helps us out from time to time! If our nose is blocked to allergies or illness and during physical exertion, our muscles require an increased level of oxygen
Were you aware that breathing through your nose keeps air into your lungs longer than breathing through your mouth? It boosts your nitrous oxide level and provides 18% more oxygen in your bloodstream. It gives you more energy, supplies the cells with the oxygen they need to function efficiently. The highest performing athletes have breathing coaches.
The air we breathe is filtered as it passes through the nostrils. It is warmed and moistened by as much as 40 degrees before it gets to our lungs. This is particularly important in cold weather and for people with heart and lung issues. Cold air going into the lungs [from mouth breathing] can cause your lungs to close.
Our mouths are the window into our bodies. Our body is great at compensating. We assume mouth breathing is normal, the body gives us signs and symptoms that we tend to ignore. Mouth breathing can be a habit, or it can be a sign there is a bigger problem.
Are you aware if you are using your mouth, your nose, or both?
Once you are aware you are breathing through your mouth if you are having difficulty there are exercises you can do to retrain your brain. Awareness is key!
The purpose of the course is to learn essential physiology and to understand the connection between poor breathing and health issues, to give tools for better sleep, less stress, more energy, and more harmony, and to give tools to coach and teach, to not teach the knowledge to others, to give tools to accept, forgive and pack more into your daily life.
To develop increasing integrity and knowledge of ourselves and to become more directed from within. Compared to a lot of us we are directed from the outside in. We will let the outside world controllers think that the Way to Happiness and harmony and love and whatever we want is external things. While it’s in my view usually within us internally at a balance between the mind brain-heart brain and the gut brain.
I have been seeing a urologist for my bladder issues. I was getting up multiple times during the night to pee. I started taping my mouth at night when I sleep to keep my mouth shut so I did not wake up with a sore throat. I was amazed at what happened.
Not only am I sleeping better, but I also am not getting up at night to pee anymore. I had no idea it was my mouth breathing that was causing me to get up so many times in the night. Mouth breathing really messes with your body in ways you don’t even consider.
We are meant to breathe through our nose, it warms the air, acts as a filtration system, and gives us more oxygen. When we breathe through our nose we get 18% less oxygen to our brain. That is a big difference. When you breathe through your mouth you tend to get a stuffy nose and feel like you can not breathe through your nose. If you can breathe through your nose for one minute you can retrain your brain to use your nose to breathe. Even if you think you can’t.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends we continue wearing masks while in public to help suppress the spread of the virus. There are many protesting the use of masks, indicating various reasons for refusing to wear them. Here are a few listed below:
- What is the truth?
- Do they even protect us?
- Are they doing more harm than good?
- What are we seeing with long-term mask use?
Wearing a mask is not new for dental and medical professionals; however, the extended wear time is. There are days I wear one for over ten hours without taking it off. With supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) low many healthcare providers are keeping the same mask on instead of using a new one after each patient, further extending the wear time of masks. How effective is that?
In one study, nurses were tested and surveyed while wearing their masks over the course of two 12-hour shifts. (2) Over the two days, 22% of the nurses removed their masks at some point due to discomfort and perceived shortness of air with complaints of headaches and lightheadedness as well. Touching their nose and face more often than the 16 times an hour we did before covid. That is not good.
More recently, a study was conducted in a Facebook group I am in specifically related to headaches and their association with PPE such as N95 masks and protective eyewear. I am in a group that was asking about how we were feeling as dental professionals. This study found that 80% of the participants had no preexisting headaches, reported PPE-associated headaches. 90% of those with headaches, prior to covid reported an exacerbation of their headache condition after the extended use of PPE.
Headaches can be a symptom of dehydration. When I started wearing my mask, I was no longer drinking enough fluids throughout the day. Less fluid intake leads to dry mouth (xerostomia), which opens the door for other potential mouth complications.
Dry mouth has been linked to an increased risk of cavities, fungal infections, bad breath, gingivitis, and periodontal diseases, all of which may be why we have started the phrase “mask mouth.”
Since masks are now required in most public settings, we need to be aware of these possible complications of wearing masks for long periods of time. To reduce dry mouth as a side effect of prolonged mask use, make sure you are drinking plenty of water during the day. You can also chew gum with the first active ingredient xylitol to help stimulate saliva flow and prevent cavities
Wearing a face mask will help to keep you and those around you safer from sharing germs, but have you noticed Halitosis – better known as bad breath now? It can be an embarrassing problem to have. Good, consistent oral hygiene or a mint is all it takes to freshen up the smell, but bad breath can also be a sign of a more serious health condition.
What Causes Mask Mouth?
Mask mouth is caused by wearing a mask for an extended period of time, keeping your mouth open under your mask, and breathing through your mouth more than your nose can dry out your mouth. As your mouth becomes dry, your saliva decreases, your teeth become more susceptible to cavities and your breath may start to smell.
Saliva is vital to maintaining good oral health, so if you get a dry mouth, you might find that your teeth and gums suffer. The symptoms of mask mouth aren’t dangerous on their own, but not breathing through your nose can cause lasting damage when they are all happening together.
Symptoms Of Mask Mouth
Mask mouth is a general term that presents some of these symptoms:
- Bad breath
- Bleeding gums
- Mouth breathing
- A dry mouth
- Tooth decay
- Acne around the mouth under the mask
Many mask wearers might experience one or more of these symptoms, especially if they spend a lot of time wearing their masks.
How Can You Prevent Mask Mouth?
There are many things that you can do to prevent mask mouth.
If you’re not wearing your mask, then you’ll dramatically reduce your chances of getting a mask mouth, although you still need to take care of your mouth and teeth.
One of the most effective is to reduce the amount of time you spend wearing a mask. That might include going out less, working from home if possible, and avoiding contact with other people who aren’t members of your household.
If you can’t avoid wearing a mask, then you should take regular breaks and get some fresh air during the day. When you don’t have to wear your mask, take it off and breathe in the fresh air through your nose. Wearing a mask isn’t necessary if you’re outside and far away from other people, so you should take your mask off to and from your destination when possible.
This will help you breathe through your nose and keep your mouth moist and improve the flow of saliva. It would be fantastic if you also drink more water throughout the day to help your mouth produce more saliva and balance the pH. Avoid drinking sugary drinks, such as juice or soda, which can contribute to even more tooth decay.
Improving your daily oral hygiene routine will help you to combat any symptoms that you might notice. Brush your teeth more often, floss at least once a day if your teeth touch, and rinse your mouth with water after every meal. Also, use quality toothpaste and consider investing in an electric toothbrush and a water flosser.
As well as improving the care of your mouth and teeth, it would help if you kept your mask clean. Wearing a dirty mask is worse than wearing a clean one, as you’ll spread more bacteria. Your hands are touching your face way more now. A dirty mask will hoard bacteria and food particles, which you might then breathe back into your mouth and end up in your bloodstream. Wash your mask regularly, and if you have to wear one at work, consider carrying a spare so that you always have a clean mask if you need it.
Bad breath is one of the most common noticeable symptoms of mask mouth, and it’s really easy to ignore and just make your breath smell better. However, this is a short-term fix, using breath mints and mouthwash, and ignoring signs and symptoms can do more harm than good.
Instead of using these short-term solutions, try to use the techniques we discussed to keep your mouth clean and reduce the mask’s impact on your oral health and overall health.
Exercises you can do to unstuff your nose and breath better.
Take your index finger and plug on the side, Breathe through your nose then do the same thing on the other you should feel your nose unplug on the side that is open.
When should you see your dentist?
If you are experiencing sore puffy bleeding gums, problems with your teeth or mouth, then you might want to consider a visit to the dentist as soon as possible. Delaying treatment could cause the problem to worsen, and be more costly in the long run. Consider reaching out to your dentist if you find that the problem isn’t going away or is getting worse.
USING FACE MASKS CAN AFFECT YOUR BREATHING NEGATIVELY
Most people I’ve talked to say that they find it hard to have their mouths closed and breathe through their noses when using face masks. Nasal breathing is extremely important in order to protect the lungs and airways.
When we inhale through the mouth our lungs and airways are exposed to cold and dry air full of viruses, bacteria, and other particles.
We inhale 10 – 20 000 liters of air every day, so we’re talking about big quantities. Mouth breathing leads to irritated and inflamed airways. And that’s not all, mouth breathing increases the breathing volume which upsets the oxygen (too much) / carbon dioxide balance (too little), increases the outflow of water, and leads to a decreased pressure in the lungs which makes it harder for the alveoli to work.
Mouth breathing signals our body we are in an emergency state which moves us in the direction towards more stress and fight/flight, which makes the body focus more on outer threats and less on inner threats, i.e. the immune system gets less priority.
So when using a face mask it is extremely important that we pay attention to our breathing. Otherwise, there is a risk that the mask does more harm than good!
When we were off for 12 weeks and I went back to work wearing a mask for 12 hours without a break gave me a headache and made me want to come home from work eat and go to sleep
What is your opinion on wearing a mask?
What is your experience of how it affects your breathing?
If this is affecting you and/or your kiddos, and you would like more information or help with exercises, contact me on the Facebook page or schedule a 15-minute free consultation at: https://thehealthymouthmovment.as.me/
I thought I was only breathing through my mouth at night. I was wrong, when I was getting a dry throat working on patients and having to leave the room to get a drink due to a dry cough it was because I was breathing through my mouth at work. I was just unaware it was my mouth breathing causing the dry throat. How you breathe during the day is how you breathe at night. Learn from my experiences and mistakes. Keep your tongue on the roof of your mouth, lips closed, and breath through your mouth.
Mask wearing takes a toll on your mouth’s pH! Make sure when you are choosing products that they are pH neutral and neutralizing to your mouth!!
That’s why so often we recommend Spry products to our clients and consumers!
Keep up the good work!!
Have you heard of mask mouth?
With all the mask-wearing to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, some people have noticed that they have not been pleased with what they are smelling while sporting a mask. 😷
When you wear a mask you may notice you are breathing through your mouth a lot more and this can cause you to have a dry mouth, hence the odor.
What can you do?
🔹Wash your reusable mask regularly!
🔹Practice good daily oral hygiene at home! Brush your teeth twice daily and floss once a day.
🔹See your dentist regularly!
🔹Use a mouth rinse!
🔹Cut down the sugary snacks!
🔹Breathe through your nose!
What is it?
Patients tend to breathe through their mouth instead of through their nose while wearing a mask. This leads to a dry mouth and less saliva being produced. The saliva is what fights the bacteria that can cause periodontal disease and decay that causes cavities.
What is the cause?
Our tendency to drink less water while masked up, as well as consume more coffee and alcohol during the lockdown, have added to the rise of this new oral hygiene issue.
What can you do?
We are encouraging you to come in for a cleaning and a check-up to help decrease the effects of 😷 Mask Mouth
Join The Healthy Mouth Movement
- United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cloth-face-cover-guidance.html
- Rebmann T, Carrico R, Wand J. Physiologic and other effects and compliance with long-term respirator use among medical intensive care unit nurses. Am J Infect Control. 2013;41:1218–1223.
- American Dental Association. Xerostomia. Available at: https://www.ada.org/en/member-center/oral-health-topics/xerostomia
- Xylitol.org. How to relieve dry mouth with xylitol. Available at: https://xylitol.org/relieve-dry-mouth-xylitol/
7. Anders Olsson Conscious Breathing Discover the power of your Breath