For those of us who are either healthcare workers, caretakers for at-risk persons, or simply socially responsible, the reality of “mask mouth” has arrived!
Most of us in healthcare noticed it first: we are accustomed to wearing a level 2 or 3 mask, or even respirator every day at work. With additional usage, we are more aware of our dry mouths, irritated lips and throats plus halitosis. In the dental setting, when a patient presents with xerostomia (dry mouth), we look for medicinal side effects first. Specific medical conditions on their own can cause xerostomia as well. Dry Mouth In the absence of these possibilities, mask mouth is a leading cause! Fortunately, the same solutions for the former will also treat the latter.
Let’s start at the very beginning…
Obviously, one can treat dehydration with…WATER! Since it’s impossible to drink through a mask, our team uses breaks throughout their day to satisfy this very essential human need.
Using proper hygiene prior to donning the mask, including a dental rinse with fluoride will help keep cavity and halitosis-causing bacteria at bay. These bacteria normally flourish in a warm and comfy environment, therefore hygiene is more important than ever.
A lip moisturizer helps; anything that either hydrates or keeps the moisture IN! There are mouth moisturizers too: think ‘Biotene’ which works to encourage your own salivary glands to flow. These products are found at any drug store and include a rinse, toothpaste, spray, gel and even chewing gum.
Chewing gum has never been a dentist’s friend! However if you are feeling dried out and cannot easily remove your mask, try a sugar free gum. Drs Hill and Schneidmiller always say: chew a piece of gum for either 5 minutes, 100 chews or until that flavor burst is gone. Then discard it! The doctors have treated too many folks with TMJ dysfunction due to gum chewing habits to recommend its use without a warning. The Daily Grind
Recently at our office, we are finding small decays on people who do not regularly have them. In fact, these people are among our most responsible patients with typically great hygiene. The doctors firmly believe that mask mouth is involved with these odd decay findings. If you notice any mask mouth symptoms, feel free to bring this up during your appointment with our hygiene team or doctors.