LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Doctors and dentists say they’re seeing a new wave of dental issues from prolonged mask wearing due to COVID-19.
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The wave is being coined ‘mask mouth’, and includes symptoms like bad breath, tooth decay and gum inflammation.
“It’s just not something we were expecting to see with a lot of mask wear,” says Dr. Daliah Wachs. “As we’re wearing the mask, rather than breathing through our nose, we’re breathing through our mouth”
Dr. Wachs says a lack of humidity in the mouth causes dry mouth, and less saliva is produced.
“We need saliva to help rinse off your teeth and keep everything copacetic,” says Dr. Wachs.
The term is a play off ‘meth mouth’, which is a common term referred to patients who have tooth decay from methamphetamine use.
However, mask mouth isn’t as visually glaring.
Doctors encourage continued mask use, and say the key to avoid any bacteria build up is to consistently hydrate.
“Just because we’re wearing a mask, and we’re not chewing gum and not worried about people smelling bad breath, it doesn’t mean we’re not having bad breath,” says Dr. Wachs. “You still have to concentrate on oral hygiene.”
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Doctors are also encouraging patients to continue with regular appointments with their dentists as offices reopen.