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Masks definitely reduce the risk of transmitting infection but wearing them for a longer course can give you bad breath. Long-term mask wearing can lead to dehydration which can further cause tooth decay and inflamed gums. Wearing a mask for a longer time can modify the way you breathe. As it covers both your nose and your mouth, it partially closes the airway to the nose. So, in order to prevent breathlessness, you begin to breathe through your mouth. This leads to dehydration and bacteria build up which in turn causes bad breath. Wearing a mask also forces you to breathe in some of the air you exhaled, which means you end up breathing in some of the bacteria you just expelled. This can cause a build-up of bacteria in your mouth.
Drinking water can help reduce dry mouth and rinse away bacteria and sugar, but we tend to drink less water when we wear a mask. Here are some tips to avoid / treat halitosis or bad breath:
There could be a chance that you are not brushing properly. Brushing twice with a fluoride toothpaste and flossing regularly will help reduce the bacterial load. You should visit your dentist to know the correct technique for brushing. Antibacterial mouthwashes also help to some extent.
Eating foods like fish, eggs, garlic, onion, coffee or spicy food. Most of these foods release sulphur which has a putrid smell. Some of these sulphides stay in your bloodstream until 72 hours causing bad breath for days together. Hence try replacing these with foods like lemon, parsley, apple and carrots. They increase the saliva production thereby washing away the residues.
Most of us are nocturnal mouth breathers which makes us get up in the middle of the night all thirsty. Xerostomia or dry mouth is not only unpleasant but potentially harmful. You might develop a sore throat, hoarseness, difficulty speaking and swallowing, problems wearing dentures and even a change in your sense of taste. So, to avoid all of that, maintain your oral hygiene, and visit your dentist regularly.
Medicines treating anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, pain and muscle tension lead to decreased salivary flow. Check with your doctor before you start with them or take sialogogues (drugs which produce saliva secretion)
In smokers, the hot air dries up the mouth and also reduces saliva which in turn creates the infamous smoker's breath. Wine contains sugars as do most of the mixers. So, when you party the bacteria in your mouth parties harder and gives you bad breath. To avoid this drink loads of water (helps with the Hangover too) and chew on sugar free gums as they promote saliva production.
If you have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), puking up a bit of food or acid into your mouth can easily create bad breath. Fruit smelling breath is a result of diabetic ketoacidosis seen in type 1 diabetes. Here the body doesn't have enough insulin to metabolize the ketones allowing them to build up toxic levels in the bloodstream. People with severe, chronic kidney failure can have breath with an ammonia-like odour. A sign of liver disease is fetor hepaticus, a strong, sweet, musty odour on the breath.
Hence bad breath is not just because of the oral hygiene but also multiple underlying conditions. So don't ignore that foul breath and wash your masks regularly.
Stay healthy and keep up that beautiful smile of yours!
The article is contributed by Geriatric dentist and implantologist Dr. Richa Vats.She has a decade of rich and diverse dental experience. She also specializes in Smile Makeover, Laser dentistry, and Rotary Endodontics.
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