Mask Breath – it is really a thing!

What is that smell? Now that you have been wearing a mask a lot more, have you noticed a change in your breath?

Many of us have cupped our hands to smell our breath before; wearing a mask is like having our hands cupped in front of our mouth but for a longer period. You are wondering why wearing a face mask is making your breath smell, but in reality, it might not be the mask at all, and your breath might have been bad for a while without you noticing.

There are several reasons that people experience bad breath, or mask-breath. To help address this issue, we decided to put together a list of potential causes.

Possible Reasons Your Breath Smells Bad:

  1. Reduced Water Intake: Mask wearing can reduce water intake. Drinking water regularly allows your mouth to rinse away bacteria that, if left behind, can multiply, and cause bad breath.
  2. Mouth Breathing: Wearing our masks can sometimes change the way we breathe. Mouth breathing can increase any odour that is in our mouth. At night, saliva production is decreased, and many of us mouth breathe and snore. Both snoring and mouth breathing can lead to a dryer mouth and dreaded morning breath. Mouth breathing in our masks coupled with the reduced water consumption that we just mentioned can lead to unpleasant breath. Since mouth breathing in a mask is often difficult to stop, try taking frequent water breaks and make sure to stay on top of your oral hygiene by brushing your teeth and tongue at least three times a day, flossing, and using a mouthwash. If you take heavy medication this can also cause a dryer mouth as above.
  3. Correct Teeth Brushing: If you do not brush correctly or at the recommended twice daily, food can get trapped between your teeth and under your gums. If it is not carefully removed through proper brushing and flossing, bacteria will start to break it down and lead to a bad odour. A waterflosser and sonic toothbrush can help you reach those areas that regular toothbrushing and flossing cannot get to.
  4. Diet: We often smell like what we eat. Garlic, onions, coffee, wine, fish, and eggs can all lead to bad breath. Did you know that sugar can cause bad breath (halitosis) also because of how it interacts with the bacteria in your mouth? The worst offenders are sweets that are sticky and chewy that get stuck in the crevices of your teeth. You do not necessarily have to give up sweets completely, just choose plain, dark chocolate, or treats that are not sticky or hard and make sure to brush your teeth afterwards.

After going through this list and eliminating these issues, are you still struggling with bad breath? Bad breath can be a symptom of periodontal disease (gum disease) or even an underlying medical condition with few noticeable signs. If you struggle with acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease, the acid can easily create bad breath. Bad breath can also be a sign of some cancers, diabetes, and even metabolic illnesses. 

If you are experiencing bad breath, consider making an appointment with your dentist. They should be able to help determine the reason behind your bad breath and give you solutions. The current lockdowns have caused many people to put off dental check-ups and professional cleaning. Even if you are doing a wonderful job with your oral hygiene at home, professional dental cleaning and check-ups can really help you stay on top of your overall oral and systemic health. Your dentist has you covered!