Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, wearing a face mask has become a part of our “new normal.” While face masks help keep us safe by protecting us from catching and spreading COVID-19, dentists say that—without proper oral hygiene—masks can negatively impact our dental health, and especially children’s dental health. Cases of “mask mouth” are on the rise amongst students who wear a face mask for long periods of time while at school. So, what is “mask mouth” and how can we avoid it?
Mask mouth is a new term coined by dentists who have noticed that cases of poor oral hygiene are on the rise, especially amongst children. Many schools have mask mandates in place to protect children from the COVID-19 virus. However, when students are wearing masks for long periods of time, the germs that are in their mouths cannot escape. For young children who tend to breathe through their mouths, the influx of trapped germs can create a hostile environment which ultimately increases the amount of bacteria in the mouth, leading to cavities and tooth decay.
Luckily, researchers of pediatric dentistry have investigated mask mouth, and compiled several tips to help keep your children’s mouths as healthy as possible.
Brush Teeth Twice Daily
This is something we should all be doing anyway. The best way to get rid of harmful bacteria is by brushing your teeth. Easy!
Drink Water Throughout the Day
Bringing a full water bottle to school is vital for so many reasons, but especially for oral health. Now that children are covering their mouths for long periods of time, they need to take short sips of water to rehydrate the mouth and move the bacteria around (and hopefully out) as much as possible.
Pack an Apple in Their Lunchbox
An apple is known as “nature’s toothbrush” due to its fibrous texture that can help stimulate gums, reduce cavity causing bacteria, and increase saliva flow. A crisp, raw apple can also help remove plaque that is trapped between teeth.
Change Masks Often
Masks can get dirty quickly, so it’s important to change them often. Pack several back-up masks in your child’s backpack so that they can rotate masks throughout the day. It’s also extremely important to wash your children’s dirty masks. Continuing to wear a dirty reusable mask can cause bumps or lesions around the mouth.
Continue Dental Cleanings
The best way to ensure your child’s oral health is in good standing is to continue with your 6-month cleanings with your family dentist. Pediatric dentistry is where the foundation for good oral health begins, so it’s vital to continue with regular visits to your family dentist, starting at a young age.
Temple Family Dentistry is a private dentistry practice that has been servicing the Temple, PA community for several decades. We pride ourselves on making our patients feel at home in our dentist’s office from the moment they walk through our doors. Dr. Dan and his team provide much more than basic dental care. In addition to your bi-annual cleanings, we also offer extractions, root canals, dental implants, dentures, and more, based on your individualized treatment plan. You will never feel like a number here, and we are happy to take the time needed to answer your questions and ensure your satisfaction. For your convenience, we offer flexible hours and accept same-day appointments for dental emergencies.