Does PPE cause cavities?

Does PPE cause cavities?

Posted by MOST DENTAL on Dec 20 2020, 11:23 AM

Does PPE cause cavities?

The world is battling against the Covid-19 coronavirus, and Personal Protective Equipment or PPE has become a way of life for many Americans and people worldwide. While mask use has been made a priority and its use has helped slow down the spread of the Covid-10 coronavirus, it is posing some oral health problems too. We all know about 'maskne' or the breakouts caused by masks; one another side effect of wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) is a rise in people complaining of bad breath, tooth and gum sensitivity, and even cavities, 

Since PPEs are here to stay (at least for the foreseeable future), it's important to get serious about your oral and dental health. 

What Is Mask Mouth?

As the name suggests, Mask mouth is an oral hygiene disorder caused as a result of wearing a face mask for long periods of time. Symptoms of 'mask mouth' include:

  • Tooth decay and cavities
  • Halitosis (bad breath)
  • Gum inflammation

Have you thought about how wearing a mask can cause cavities? The culprit here is the dry mouth - caused because you tend to breathe through your mouths while wearing masks and are less likely to stay hydrated as your mouth is covered. This leads to less salivary flow, which is a natural protection to wash away bacteria and keep the mouth pH at an optimal level. And when the mouth is dry, it becomes more acidic; this creates a perfect environment for plaque and bacteria. This finally results in gum problems, stinky breath, and even cavities. 

What Causes Mask Mouth and Cavities?

  • Mouth Breathing:Though, normally, we are meant to breathe in and out through the nose, wearing a mask for a long period of time can cause many people to change their breathing habits, often switching to breathing through the mouth, which causes mouth dryness. Dry mouth results in a decrease in saliva production that contains the enzymes, proteins, and minerals necessary for fighting disease-causing bacteria preventing plaque build-up, and keeping the mouth clean. If saliva isn't present to neutralize the mouth, cells decompose and cause bad breath.
  • Dehydration: Dehydration is another reason that causes dry mouth and, in turn, bad breath and cavities. Most people who wear PPE all day long and are in professions surrounded by a higher volume of people tend to eat or drink less as they don't want to remove their mask to eat or drink.
  • Acidic Drinks:As many people are adjusting to a new normal at home, a lot of people have turned to coffee for an energy boost and alcohol for comfort. When consumed regularly, these acidic beverages can harm oral health — staining the teeth, causing sensitivity, and eroding enamel.

How to Treat & Prevent Mask Mouth

Below are the habits that will help treat and prevent mask mouth:

  • Stay hydrated: Always stay hydrated; replace acidic sodas, iced teas, and sports drinks with higher pH water.
  • Brush and floss daily: Brush at least two times a day, preferably with a sonic toothbrush.
  • Clean your tongue properly: Use a tongue-cleanser morning and night along with a mouth rinse designed to treat halitosis to remove bacteria from the entire tongue.
  • Remove tartar: Along with your brushing, flossing, and tongue scraping routine, go for professional cleanings to prevent the accumulation of plaque and tartar loaded with bacteria that causes bad breath and cavities.

The mask mouth results could be harmful if left untreated; gum disease or periodontal disease will eventually lead to strokes and heart attacks. While masks are not negotiable during the present times, take care of your oral health with proper dental care practices to avoid their grossest side effects.

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