Why do we get bad breath when we wear a mask and how can we avoid it?

Although masks protect us from bad odours and stop us from smelling them on the outside, it can, however, cause them on the inside. Keep reading to find out how to avoid getting bad breath when you wear your mask.

Masks and bad breath
© Getty Images
Masks and bad breath

Since wearing a face mask is recommended, and mandatory in a lot of places nowadays, you may have noticed that you tend to get bad breath when you wear one. If you have, don’t worry because it’s normal. Wearing a mask has been known to cause bad breath, which is sometimes now referred to as ‘mask mouth’.

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How do masks cause bad breath?

Truth be told, it’s not the mask itself that changes how your breath smells, but rather the way you interact with them. As it turns out, bad breath is caused by dryness in your mouth and not actually the mask. Dentist Zainab Al-Mukhtar explained to Slate:

The oral issues associated with mask-wearing come from the tendency to breath through the mouth that some people feel the need to do while wearing a mask, along with the possibility of drinking less water and less mouth hydration. This is more likely to be the case with masks that are tightly fitted around the nose over a length of time.

He also added that, as well as bad breath, there is also an increased risk of cavities. Another dentist, Dr. Sunny Sihra, also worries about the possible increase of mouth bacteria since there is no saliva to get rid of it. She explains:

Saliva is imperative as it contains many anti-fungal properties which work to kill off any bad bacteria that causes decay.

So what can we do? Never go out without a toothbrush? Use water pipettes to stay hydrated? Don’t worry, it's actually nothing so extreme!

Masks and bad breath Getty Images

How to keep your breath smelling nice and fresh when wearing a mask

Even though the scientific link between wearing a maskand having bad breath has not been proven yet, it is better to take measures now just in case!

  • Brush your teeth twice a day for at least 2 minutes
  • Drink water throughout the day. ‘Drinking water throughout the day will help to keep your moutharea clean and wash away any food particles sitting in the teeth, gums and any other areas of the mouth,’ explains the dentist
  • You could also chew gum (in moderation) which, in addition to giving you minty or fruity breath, can also help activate your saliva production.

Finally, make sure to go for a dental check-up at least twice a year to keep your dental health in check. And don’t forget to wash your maskregularly to avoid germs. If you do all this, you should be able to laugh out loud again without having to worry—while still respecting social distancing of course!

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