Can Wearing a Mask Cause Cavities?
Posted January 28, 2021 by Dr. Brian Evans
Even though 2020 is over and we can start to leave a lot of that crazy year behind us, one thing remains a constant in our everyday lives — face masks. Masks have become commonplace throughout the United States to help minimize the spread of COVID-19 and are seen everywhere we go. From grocery stores to department stores, facemasks are here to stay (at least for a little while longer). But daily, long-term use of masks may cause some concerns for your dentist in Reno.
*An Important Note About Facemasks
Before we dive any further, we need to be clear that what we’re about to discuss does not outweigh the importance of continuing to wear a mask when in public or around other people. Please continue wearing masks when appropriate and use the provided tips to help combat any concerns we cover herein.
Most of us were not used to ever wearing a mask, let alone wearing them daily and for hours at a time. Because of this, some of our bodies needed to adjust to this new norm. One of the most common ways we adjusted was to start breathing out of our mouths instead of our noses. However, while this type of breathing may feel more comfortable, it is what concerns your dentist in Reno.
Mouth breathing, whether due to wearing a mask or for other reasons such as a stuffy nose, can quickly dry out saliva. This reduction in saliva will cause our mouths to dry out and feel uncomfortable. But the discomfort of dry mouth isn’t the only thing that’s concerning. Without saliva, bad bacteria and acids are left behind which can increase the risk of decay and other problems.
Bad Breath & Cavities
The bacteria and acid buildup that often occurs as a side effect of dry mouth puts our teeth at risk for decay and cavities. Since dangerous acid is left behind and not neutralized by saliva, the acid can wear away at the enamel, making it easy for bacteria to settle in and cause cavities. Additionally, these same bacteria will feed on anything left behind in the mouth and continue to produce even more acid, and the cycle continues. What’s more, is these bacteria will also produce a smelly byproduct and can cause bad breath.
Avoiding Dry Mouth
Now, while the above may seem concerning, the good news about all of this is that your dentist in Reno knows of some simple things you can do to reduce the risk of dry mouth and the concerns that go along with it including:
- Drinking plenty of water throughout the day to keep the mouth hydrated and moist.
- Sucking on sugar-free hard candies or chewing gum with Xylitol. Both of these tricks can stimulate saliva production.
- Brushing and flossing every day to help remove bacteria buildup.
Dry mouth can be more than uncomfortable, but there are ways your dentist in Reno can help. Schedule an appointment with your dentist today to find the best dry mouth solution for you.