Wearing a face mask is compulsory in many countries due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. While donning a mask helps to protect us and others from the coronavirus, it may also make us more aware of our breath as some of us tend to breathe through our mouth with a mask on. If the odor is unpleasant, you’re experiencing what is known as ‘mask breath’ — and it is likely that your oral health requires your attention.
Why You May Not Have Noticed Bad Breath Before
Research suggests that our brain blocks out non-threatening receptors via a process known as sensory adaptation. As a result, our nose filters out nasty smells from our mouth simply because we’ve become used to our own scent. The pharynx — an opening at the back of the mouth — is connected to the nose. However, wearing a mask changes all that. Think of it as constantly cupping your mouth to smell your breath. In fact, your brain could be ignoring your breath’s condition until you put on a cloth or surgical mask, hence the term mask breath.
Causes of Bad Breath
Bad breath is caused by many reasons, from poor oral hygiene to extraoral factors such as an underlying medical conditions. A common cause of bad breath is xerostomia, also known as dry mouth, where a lack of saliva to flush away bacteria and food particles can produce an unpleasant smell. Mouth breathing — which mask wearers are prone to — can cause dry mouth. Rinsing with an mouthwash helps to remove bacteria, residual food particles and ensures the mouth stays moist. Drinking plenty of water helps as well.
Why Brushing Isn’t Enough
Plaque buildup is another potential cause of bad breath. The accumulation of dental bacterial plaque can also lead to gingivitis, a common oral disease that inflames the gums around the base of your teeth. To combat dental plaque, practice good oral hygiene by brushing and flossing your teeth often. It’s important to note, however, that brushing teeth alone cleans only 25% of your mouth. To reach below your gumline, gaps between your teeth and to clear bacterial pools on your tongue, try using a mouthwash. LISTERINE®’s superior four essential oils formula is designed specially to get rid of germs that cause bad breath. As dental plaque can harden into an off-white substance called tartar over time, see your dentist regularly for teeth scaling treatments to remove it completely.
Health Conditions that Cause Halitosis
Health conditions such as sinusitis, diabetes and chronic tonsillitis — an inflammation of the tonsils located at the back of the throat — are potential causes of halitosis, also known as chronic bad breath. This was proven in a study where patients with chronic tonsillitis and bad breath tested positive in Finkelstein’s tonsil smelling test, which involves squeezing the tonsils and smelling the subsequent discharge. The patients were treated by tonsillectomy (surgical removal of tonsils), which effectively treated their halitosis. Symptoms of tonsillitis include swollen tonsils, sore throat and difficulty swallowing. If you suspect your bad breath is caused by tonsillitis, consult your doctor to determine if tonsillectomy is required.
This information is intended to generate awareness amongst the users of oral care hygiene products. It is always recommended to seek advice of your dentist or other qualified health care provided for any diagnosis or treatment.
Reasons for Bad Breath: Why Brushing Your Teeth isn’t Enough
Mask Breath: What it is How to Deal With it
Why Do I Have Bad Breath When I’m Wearing a Mask?