Mask breath identified
By Sue Loudon
We are all wearing masks to protect against Covid 19 for ourselves and others, but we may be creating another problem – mask breath! If you’ve noticed your own breath is not pleasant, it’s not all the mask’s fault. There can be other problems besides a dinner that includes onions and garlic.
“When saliva dries up, bacteria flourishes,” said Dr. Joseph P. Spalitto, DDS, at 400 East Red Bridge Road. “People should sip water often when wearing a mask. Of course, it’s also necessary to practice good dental hygiene.”
Good hygiene includes brushing and flossing at least twice a day. Using an oral rinse may help also, since the back of the tongue has the highest concentration of bacteria. Bad breath or halitosis results when bacteria breaks down food wedged between the teeth and around the gums. If bad breath persists, the American Dental Association advises checking for other conditions such as acid reflux and cancers of the mouth and throat.
Face masks do not cause bad breath, but they’ are an agent of awareness, according to the ADA.
“N95 masks are the best because they seal all around the nose and mouth area, but they’re hard to get even for doctors,” said Spalitto. “I wear a face shield besides the mask because with dentistry there can be some splashing around.”
He said his office was closed for a month and then reopened for emergencies like toothaches and chipped teeth. Now he sees patients for regular check-ups. All his staff wear not only masks but disposable full body coverings.
“The best masks fit the tightest, but they’re the ones that cause the problem of dry nose and mouth,” said Spalitto. “I make and inhale a small amount of salt water to keep my nose moist. Plus I sip water a lot. Good masks work. If people continue to wear them, we will see a drop in seasonal flu cases this year as well as Covid 19.”
There are masks available that fit tightly around the nose but may not be a fashion statement. Spalitto likes the type that has a bendable metal band across the nose bridge. This model has been recommended by pharmacists for seasonal allergy sufferers for years.