Wearing a face mask in public and while traveling to work on public transport has become the new normal. Keeping safe and protecting ourselves against COVID-19 is incredibly important. One of the main ways we can protect ourselves and others is by wearing a face mask or covering.
Unfortunately, ‘mask breath’ (bad breath caused by wearing a mask or covering) is a common side effect. But don’t let this deter you from wearing your mask.
In actuality, masks do not create bad breath. Instead, they make us more aware of our breath – which we may not have noticed otherwise.
“A mask covers both the nose and mouth,” and because of this, “the concentration of any bad breath is increased, allowing us to smell it,” dentist Dr. Edwin Chng explains. “Without the mask, even if one has bad breath, he or she may not notice it.”
So let us not be discouraged. Here are some easy tips and tricks to face mask breath.
1. Drink a Lot of Water
Wearing a mask often leads to people breathing faster, and through their mouth instead of their nose. This can quickly dry out the mouth, and lead to less saliva to wash away food particles and moisten the tissues. So staying well hydrated lowers your chances of bad breath.
“A drier mouth, especially if you are not drinking sufficient water, may contribute to bad breath,” says dentist Dr Koh Chu Guan. This dryness is worsened by smoking or consuming diuretic drinks.
Experts say that keeping fluid intake high will encourage the mouth to produce more saliva, leading to a fresher mouth and breath. It must be noted that fluids do NOT include coffee. Coffee breath is an issue of its own and is its own cause for bad breath. Making an effort to breathe through the nose and exhale out the mouth will also help.
2. Maintain Good Oral Hygiene
It’s important to take make sure you maintain good care of your oral health. This means brushing your teeth in the morning to start your day off fresh. Brush for 2-3 minutes without forgetting to softly scrub your tongue too! A lot of bad-breath-causing bacteria can grow overnight. Brushing helps to rid the mouth of this, but only if we brush properly. Brushing for an inefficient length, with an old brush, or forgetting the tongue are common mistakes.
Furthermore, night-time brushing is just as important. it removes all the excess food hiding in your teeth and prevents bacteria from growing from it overnight. This minimises the likelihood of morning breath and consequently, mask breath too! Remember to floss daily as well.
3. Visit your Dentist regularly
You should visit your dentist for a professional clean every 4-6 months. This is the best preventative measure for future dental issues. It cleans the build-up of plaque that everyone experiences – from the best to the worst brushers.
If your bad breath doesn’t seem to be going away or you notice it’s exceptionally bad you should visit your dentist and hygienist to have your teeth and gums checked and cleaned. If it’s been a while since your last dentist visit and you’re experiencing bad breath while wearing a mask you should book an appointment as soon as possible to make sure your bad breath isn’t a symptom of a more serious health concern.
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