It undoubted that this pandemic has hit us hard. COVID-19 pandemic has become one of the great tragedies in human history now infecting 71.2 million people worldwide with death toll of 1.6 million. Despite this ongoing chaos,we now recovering adopting the New Normal. Lifestyle is back to normal and safety precaution have been adopted with mandatory . SMS measure have been life savior approach interrupting diseases transmission greatly. In short SMS refers to ( practicing proper hand hygiene with use of the sanitizer/hand wasting ,use of face mask,and social distancing. With the onset of pandemic, facial mask are in hype. The easy administration, access and high efficiency & protection against COVID-19 have increased its use and demand.Read More about Mask However, the use of Mask excessive and overuse have caused a new problem Mask Mouth.
Disclaimer :The author of this article with no any means discourage the use of mask. This article is only intend to aware readers about new emerging public health issue. Nepal Health Magazine strongly urges to use mask and adopt all the safety measures issued by state and WHO. Currently we are defenseless against COVID-19 and mask and other SMS measure is only our alternative.
What is Mask Mouth ?
Defining mask, it is a covering made of fibre or gauze and fitting over the nose and mouth to protect against air pollutants, or made of sterile gauze and worn to prevent infection of the wearer or (in surgery) of the patient.This simple barrier method is highly effective to stop COVID-19 transmission as it checks droplet infection.However, the use of mask for a long time has created a new problem mask mouth.Mouth mask is characterized by wide range of oral health problems might include dry mouth, bad breath, tooth decay, and even gum disease.
Causes of Mask Mouth
- Disrupted breathing patterns. A study conducted by PNMedical shows how wearing a mask can impact your breathing, causing more rapid, shallow breaths using your mouth, chest and neck instead of your diaphragm. Breathing out of your mouth decreases the amount of saliva, which plays an important role in your oral health — washing away food debris, and defending your teeth from cavities.
- Dehydration. Wearing a mask also causes you to drink less water than usual. Dehydration can lead to dry mouth, increasing your risk of tooth decay and bad breath.
- Recycling air. When you wear a mask, you trap more carbon dioxide in your mouth than usual, according to Aerosol and Air Quality Research. This amount of carbon dioxide does not have a toxicological effect on your body. However, it can increase the acidity of your oral microbiome, which might put you at risk for infections or inflammatory conditions like gum disease.
What Are Mask Mouth Symptoms?
The severity of mask mouth symptoms varies for each person, but the condition most commonly presents itself as:
- Dry mouth. Xerostomia, or dry mouth, occurs when you don’t have enough saliva to keep your mouth moist. Not only does dry mouth make it difficult to eat, swallow and speak, but it also increases your chance for developing tooth decay and other oral infections.
- Bad breath. What you eat, your oral hygiene habits, and dry mouth can all cause halitosis, more commonly known as bad breath. Prolonged mask-wearing can intensify dry mouth, but it also traps the stench caused by poor oral hygiene or eating smelly foods like garlic and onions.
- Bleeding gums. If you notice your gums are swollen or bleeding, it could be a sign of gingivitis. Wearing a mask may impact the type and amount of bacteria in your mouth, which can cause plaque build-up and advance that to your gum tissues.
How Do You Prevent Mask Mouth?
Even if you experience some of these symptoms, keep wearing your mask. Wearing your mask slows the spread of the virus and helps protect the vulnerable in your community. Instead, implement some of these preventative measures:
- Focus on your oral care routine. Brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day and clean between your teeth with floss or other interdental devices once a day. Make sure you use the proper brushing technique to clean all your mouth’s nooks and crannies.
- Freshen up between cleanings. Keep a mouthwash on hand to freshen your breath and fight bacteria between cleanings. Ask your dental professional to recommend a mouthwash that does not exacerbate dry mouth. Chewing sugar-free gum can also help remove food debris and fix bad breath.
- Keep an eye on tooth and gum health. Because mask mouth increases your chances of infection, watch out for sensitive teeth and gums. If you notice any discoloration, pain, bleeding, or tenderness, see your dentist as soon as you safely can for treatment.
- Stay hydrated. Drink water throughout the day to help prevent dry mouth. It might also help to limit alcohol and coffee consumption, which can cause dehydration.
- Use a clean mask. Regularly replace or clean your mask to prevent bacterial growth. The CDC recommends washing your mask daily or throwing your mask out after each wear.
- Contact a health professional. If you notice any oral complications from extended mask use, contact your dentist immediately. Similarly, if your mask causes skin issues, talk to your dermatologist.
How to Brush Your Teeth
Oral Health & Nepal
Oral health of Nepal is satisfactory. 89.9% of the people brush their teeth once a day while percentage of people reporting oral health is only 14.3%.However regular dental visits is extremely low. Dental visit is suggested in every six month ; however the visit of dentist in 1 year is only 2.8%.[Steps survey 2019 Nepal ] Hence, a huge scope of public health awareness and encourage for safe oral health behavior must be done.Mouth Mask problems could be easily managed through adopting healthy oral hygiene and visit to dentist is recommended.
Hey there, I am Nirdesh Baral, founder of Nepal Health Magazine. I am a Tech geek by passion , Public health practitioner by profession and an Ailurophile by heart and a patriot by birth