While there’s no denying that wearing a mask can help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, now dentists and doctors reveal a stinky and serious side effect to the practice. It’s been dubbed “mask mouth” and refers to new oral hygiene issue leading to bad breath, tooth decay and receding gums caused by the constant usage of facial coverings.
“We’re seeing inflammation in people’s gums that have been healthy forever, and cavities in people who have never had them before,” Dr. Rob Ramondi, co-founder of Manhattan Dental, told the New York Post. “About 50% of our patients have been impacted by this, so we decided to name it ‘mask mouth’— after ‘meth mouth,’”
Methamphetamine addicts often neglect their dental hygiene and land up with cracked and stained teeth and teeth grinding prompting dentists to coin the term “meth mouth.”
Mask mouth can be serious, say experts, who point out periodontal disease can increase your risk of heart attacks and strokes, according to the Post. Wearing a mask reduces the amount of saliva in the mouth which helps fight bacteria and cleans your teeth, preventing tooth decay and gum disease. Dry mouth from lack of saliva can be prevented by drinking more water, cutting down on caffeine, using a tongue scraper and an alcohol-free mouthwash.
A leading dentist from Houston, Texas, suggests that it’s not so much the masks that are causing dry mouth but how we breathe while wearing them that’s the problem.
“Now that a lot of us are mouth breathing while we have our masks on, we’re drying out all that saliva that usually protects us from getting cavities,” said Dr. Piya Gandhi. She suggests that people continue to wear their masks, but try to breathe through the nose and be sure to keep up with regular dental appointments, she told KAMC News, in Lubbock, Texas.
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