What Is Mask Mouth?
Masks help prevent the spread of infectious diseases — like the Covid-19 virus — protecting both you and those you come in contact with. The simple barrier helps stop respiratory droplets from traveling into the air and onto other people when a person wearing the mask coughs, sneezes, talks, or raises their voice. However, wearing a mask for an extended period can create unwanted side effects, such as mask mouth. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing a mask in public settings, and studies show masks play a crucial role in slowing the virus’s spread, so getting rid of this protective measure is not the answer. Instead, learn all about mask mouth — what it is, what causes it, and how you can prevent it — so you can find relief.
What Causes Mask Mouth?
Mask mouth describes the variety of oral side effects from wearing a mask for an extended time. Mask mouth might include dry mouth, bad breath, tooth decay, and even gum disease. Dental professionals attribute these side effects to a few factors:
- Disrupted breathing patterns. A study conducted by PNMedical shows how wearing a mask can impact your breathing, causing more rapid, shallow breaths using your mouth, chest, and neck instead of your diaphragm. Breathing out of your mouth decreases the amount of saliva, which plays an important role in your oral health — washing away food debris and defending your teeth from cavities.
- Dehydration. Wearing a mask also causes you to drink less water than usual. Dehydration can lead to dry mouth, increasing your risk of tooth decay and bad breath.