Healthbeat: Side effects of mask wearing and how you can avoid them


SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — A face mask is the first thing many of us may think of when it comes to pandemic precautions. But those masks are being linked to problems that may land you in the dentist office.

Those masks are intended to prevent the transmission of the virus potentially to others. But what’s going on behind the mask might be causing some oral health chaos.

Florence Markowski of Scranton notices something happening whenever she wears a face mask.

“I feel like I’m breathing more through my mouth than my nose,” said Markowski.

Timothy Jones of Scranton feels it in his mouth, too.

“Just dryness. A lot of dryness,” said Jones.

All that dryness leads to more bacteria which leads to “This new term called mask mouth,” said Dr. Nicholas Rizzo, Electric City Dentistry.

Dr. Nicholas Rizzo at Electric City Dentistry says “mask mouth” commonly causes bad breath with bacteria lurking in your mouth.

But Dr. Nick, as his patients call him, says “mask mouth” can trigger something worse.

“So, you’re more prone to cavities. You’re more prone to, you know, gum disease, periodontitis, things like that and it will result in some not so nice dental conditions,” Dr. Nick said.

Dr. Nick says he hasn’t seen a lot of “mask mouth” among his patients but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take it seriously.

“So you have a bit of a war in your mouth between, you know, the good things your body does in producing saliva and stuff like that. It’s going to try and fight some of those issues and then you have bacteria that are trying to break down your teeth, cause gingivitis,” said Dr. Nick.

Dr. Nick says it’s particularly important for you to follow the rules of good oral hygiene.

“Brushing twice a day, flossing, mouth rinse is sometimes a help as well because it will give you some extra fluoride,” Dr. Nick said.

And while you do all that, the other important thing to remember is drink water.

“Obviously wearing the mask there’s no good way to do it. So you’re going to have to just try and remember to do it like in between maybe when you’re in the car or something like that. Just carry a bottle of water around and then when you’re at a safe distance from people, you know, maybe pop it down and take a sip then.”

And Dr. Nick says you might also want to consider a tongue scraper since bacteria tend to accumulate on the tongue.

Despite the side-effect that masks can leave you with, health experts stress it is still one of the most important things you can do to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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