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As mask mandates are becoming ubiquitously used to slow the spread of COVID-19, dental professionals are finding a new oral malady.

“Mask Mouth” is a condition whereby a person has foul breath, inflamed gums and decaying teeth.

Ironically, the mask, used to protect against exhaling particles or breathing in other people’s “droplets”, may cause dry mouth.

When people wear a mask, they may be less likely to breath through their nose, hence their mouth, possibly due to a reflex of being covered, opens more frequently.

Dry mouth ensues when there is a decrease in saliva, designed to clean the teeth and wash away bacteria.

Dental professionals also cite poor hydration as people may be less inclined to frequently drink from their water bottle if they are concerned about removing their mask.

Moreover, diet and exercise changes during COVID shut down might have led to less healthy habits and more alcohol, tobacco, and sugar use.

Regular hydration, teeth cleaning, dental exams and a good diet are paramount to fighting off “mask mouth” and maintaining good oral health.

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP