2020 has presented many oral health challenges for people that we are all still working around. For months people could not see a dentist except for a dental emergency. For half a year we have been wearing masks whenever we go out in public places in order to limit the spread of COVID-19. One thing that wearing masks has revealed is that sometimes bad breath is a real problem. The trendy name for this is mask mouth. What can you do to eliminate it? 

A Rose by Any Other Name Would Smell as…Sour?  

mask mouthThis year has been all about masks, so this new name, mask mouth, reflects that. But mask mouth is just another name for ordinary halitosis or bad breath. It’s likely that most people with mask mouth had bad breath before but they were unaware of it. Now that they are breathing their own breath back in their own nostrils, they can experience what others did before.This may be unpleasant and embarrassing news. Fortunately, for most people there are simple ways to fix the problem. 

Brush and Floss Daily – As usual, the first round of defense against poor oral health is to brush and floss twice daily and make sure that the bacteria in your mouth is denied the food that it needs to flourish and create tooth decay. It’s easier to forget to take care of your teeth if your schedule is disrupted, so it makes sense that when people are home more they might not remember. But make a point of remembering if you want to tame your bad breath. 

Use MouthwashMethyl mercaptan is a sulphurous chemical that is a frequent cause of bad breath. It gets released as a waste product when bacteria consumes proteins and dead cells in the mouth. Regular use of mouthwash can help keep that bacteria under control. Brushing your tongue can also help. Methyl mercaptan production is also associated with gum disease. If you notice your gums are red and bleeding and they do not improve with better brushing and flossing, talk to your dentist. 

Monitor Your Diet – If you are in the habit of eating foods that have lots of garlic or onions in them, don’t be surprised to smell them when you wear a mask. Another offender is coffee. If your diet is full of sugar or you regularly drink sugary drinks, those will also cause the bacteria in your mouth to proliferate. Brushing after meals will help, but remember that anything you eat will remain in your digestive tract for awhile, so if you don’t want to smell it in your mask, make different food choices before you have to mask up.

Wash Your Mask – Another cause of odor might be a dirty mask. Anything made of fabric, including cloth, will be a pleasant place for bacteria to settle on and grow. If you don’t wash your mask regularly, it will definitely start to smell. 

Other Causes of Mask Mouth

In most cases mask mouth should be easy to fix by adding some good habits you may have let slide during the lockdown. If you take the above measures to try to eliminate your mask mouth and are not successful, talk to your dentist about the problem. You could have a more serious underlying health problem that is causing it, and discussing it with your dentist will be helpful.