Mask breath has been one of the unexpected wake-up calls from the COVID pandemic. Keeping ourselves and others safe by wearing a mask is essential. But it’s also causing many of us to realize that we have bad breath. Keep in mind that face coverings don’t actually cause bad breath. Instead, they put us in a position where we’re getting up close and personal with our own halitosis. There’s nothing like re-breathing our own air in a restricted space to give us an idea of just how bad things are. The good news is, there’s a lot we can do to diminish or get rid of mask breath and make things more pleasant for everyone.
What Causes Bad Breath?
- In most cases, bad breath is caused by a buildup of bacteria in the mouth. These bacteria thrive when we eat sugary, high-carb snacks, and when we neglect proper oral hygiene. The good news is, these issues are easy to fix with simple lifestyle changes.
- More severe oral health conditions can also cause bad breath, including tooth decay, gum disease, and mouth sores. Fixing these problems requires intervention from your dentist.
- Some gastrointestinal illnesses and other conditions can cause bad breath. Common medical problems can leave patients prone to halitosis, including diabetes, reflux issues, and some cancers. If your oral health is good and bad breath persists, consult your doctor.
- Many common medications have side effects that include bad breath. Talk with your dentist or primary care doctor if this is a concern.
- Bad breath can be exacerbated by certain foods, like garlic or eggs. Drinking water or popping in a stick of sugar-free gum can help in these temporary situations.
- Conditions like sleep apnea and snoring can cause us to breathe through our mouths at night. This reduces saliva and causes dry mouth and bad breath during the day.
- Since your nose and mouth are connected, a sinus infection or postnasal drip from allergies or a cold can contribute to bad breath.
- Smoking and tobacco use are heavy contributors to halitosis. Quitting tobacco is good for your health and does wonders for your breath.
How Can I Prevent Bad Breath?
- Unless you have an underlying medical condition, the most important thing you can do to prevent bad breath is to keep up with brushing and flossing. Brush your teeth twice a day and floss at least once a day to remove food particles. Many patients find that cleaning the tongue also helps prevent bad breath.
- Consider an ADA-approved mouth rinse as an extra step in oral care. But remember, it’s not a substitute for brushing and flossing.
- Stay up-to-date with regular checkups and cleanings. Even during COVID, it’s essential to keep up with routine care. Your family dentist has strict protocols in place to make your visits safe.
- Eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables. This helps clean the teeth and also keeps your body healthy.
- Drink more water. Water keeps your body hydrated and healthy and also helps remove food particles from your teeth.
- Stay up to date with checkups with your primary care doctor. Routine blood work can often catch early warning signs of disease.
- Stop smoking and using tobacco. Talk with your dentist if you need help finding a good smoking cessation program.
- Change your toothbrush or electric toothbrush head regularly to avoid bacteria buildup. They’re great stocking stuffers.
What Are Treatments for Bad Breath?
If mask breath–or bad breath in general–is a concern, start with a visit to your dentist. Your family dentist can help you identify the problem and get going with a plan for prevention and treatment. Here are some of the most effective treatment strategies for halitosis:
- Build a solid oral hygiene plan, including brushing, flossing and routine cleanings at your dentist’s office into your routine.
- Address oral health problems like tooth decay and gum disease with your dentist. Whether you need a filling, root canal or another procedure, oral health issues won’t go away on their own.
- Your dentist may recommend replacing old fillings and other aging dental hardware, which can create breeding grounds for bacteria.
- If you get a gum disease diagnosis, your dentist may be able to treat you in-house or may recommend treatment by a periodontist in more severe cases.
- If dry mouth is a problem, your dentist can prescribe a special mouth rinse. In some cases, dental devices can also help with sleep apnea.
- Getting oral health problems in check is the first step. If bad breath still doesn’t go away, make an appointment with your primary care doctor for further medical testing.
Making Mask Breath Go Away
This winter, masking up is more important than ever. Face coverings will likely remain part of our lives for some time as a way to protect ourselves and others from COVID. But remember, masks don’t cause bad breath. They just make us more aware of problems that are already there. Cover your mouth and nose–but keep mask breath at bay by paying extra attention to oral hygiene. And don’t cancel appointments for routine dental care. At Greenhill Family Dental Care, masks have been part of our lives as providers for our entire careers, so we know what you’re going through. We have strict protocols in place to make sure that every visit is safe. A healthy mouth is a key to fresh breath–mask or no mask.