Dentists are warning about the health issues tied to prolonged use of a mask to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
They said dental problems associated with “mask mouth,” including gum disease, could lead to serious complications.
“Gum disease — or periodontal disease — will eventually lead to strokes and an increased risk of heart attacks,” Marc Sclafani, a dentist and co-founder of One Manhattan Dental, told the New York Post about “mask mouth,” which is increasingly causing inflammation and gum disease among patients.
Another dentist and co-founder at One Manhattan Dental, Rob Ramondi, said 50% of his patients are suffering from negative health issues due to mask-wearing.
“We’re seeing inflammation in people’s gums that have been healthy forever, and cavities in people who have never had them before,” Ramondi said. “About 50% of our patients are being impacted by this, [so] we decided to name it ‘mask mouth’ — after ‘meth mouth.’”
“Meth mouth” is a term used to describe poor oral hygiene typically associated with chronic meth users.
The dentists said that the face coverings increase mouth dryness and contribute to a buildup of bad bacteria.
“People tend to breathe through their mouth instead of through their nose while wearing a mask,” Sclafani said. “The mouth breathing is causing the dry mouth, which leads to a decrease in saliva — and saliva is what fights the bacteria and cleanses your teeth.”
Sclafani suggested those who have no choice but to wear masks can drink more water, cut down on caffeine, snag a humidifier to moisten the air, use an alcohol-free mouthwash, scrape their tongue, and refrain from smoking.
Wearing face coverings to stem the spread of the coronavirus has become a contentious issue across the United States, with some states and cities imposing mandatory face mask requirements, while others have filed lawsuits to defy those precautions.
Supporters of mask requirements, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, argue that cloth masks are effective in stopping the spread of the virus, while critics cite studies showing a lack of evidence of effectiveness.