Wearing a Mask? Watch for Dryness of the Mouth and Bad Breath

Young woman wearing a plaid handmade face mask and colorful shirt with mesh bag full of oranges and a backpack standing on the street.

Facial masks are vital to protecting yourself from germs during the pandemic. But also, they are a new way to make a personal statement. Some people match the mask to colors in their clothes. Others use masks with an athletic team icon or favorite phrase. Masks are part of the new normal. But many people are noticing an interesting thing: their breath smells. So if you’re wearing a mask, watch for dryness of the mouth and bad breath.

Bad breath

After wearing a mask for several hours, some people complain about smelling something nasty. At first, they may think that the mask material is releasing a smell as they breathe through it. But after taking off the mask, they don’t smell the foul odor. They quickly realize that the mask isn’t the problem. They have bad breath.

Many people are wearing a mask made of fabric. Make sure to wash the mask after each use.

Dryness of the mouth

Dental professionals say many factors cause bad breath. Here are three common reasons:

  1. Dryness of the mouth

    When wearing a mask, many people breathe through their mouth, instead of through their nose. They also tend to breathe faster. Breathing through the mouth can cause dryness of the mouth and create bad breath. When the mouth is dry, saliva isn’t working to wash away food particles and moisten oral tissues.

To help, health experts encourage people to breathe in through their nose and exhale through their mouth. The mouth is better for exhaling and allows the body to expel air more efficiently. Many people also breathe through their mouths while sleeping. This breathing habit can cause dryness of the mouth, along with snoring and restless sleep.

  1. Oils from foods

    Eating foods with garlic, onion and cheese, or drinking organic juice and soda pop can cause smelly breath. The oils from these foods and beverages travel to the lungs and into your breath.

  1. Food particles

    The food you eat during the day leaves particles in your mouth. These bits of food can collect around the teeth and under the gums. If not removed daily with tooth brushing and flossing, they can combine with bad mouth bacteria. Together they can cause tooth decay or even periodontal disease. They both create smelly breath (like rotten eggs) and lead to dental problems. Review these tips for healthy teeth and gums.

Most people think they’re in good health. But their mouth may tell a different story. Learn how the healthiness of your mouth can be an indicator of your overall wellness.


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