Not Only Does Wearing a Mask Help Prevent Covid-19, It Can Helps Detect Underlying Health Problems by Dr. Caron

07/09/2020

From time to time, we all wonder if our breath smells bad and rely on close friends and family to break that news gently. Now, because of the pandemic, we are answering that question on our own. How does your breath smell underneath your mask? According to the Academy of General Dentistry, 80 million people have chronic bad breath (or halitosis). Certain foods, habits or health conditions are the leading cause of bad breath. In many cases, halitosis can be improved with consistent dental hygiene. However, bad breath can also be a sign of serious, underlying health problems.  

Covid Mask girl in store
If you notice bad breath that doesn’t go away with good oral hygiene, contact your primary care physician.

Here are the top causes of bad breath:

1. Poor dental care. This is the number one reason! When the bacteria in plaque breaks down pieces of food, it will cause an unpleasant smell. Brushing twice a day and flossing daily can eliminate reason #1. Also using a mouth wash for plaque and gingivitis control recommended by your dentist can help. We recommend Listerine Mouthwash – without alcohol is best to avoid dry mouth. The best toothbrush is an electric toothbrush. Electric toothbrushes pulsate thousands of times per minute! Why is this pulsating important? As the brush bristles pulsate, it removes plaque and bacteria from the teeth. The more pulses per minute, the more effectively it is working. We recommend the Oral-B Genius 8000 or a Phillip’s Sonicare Diamond Clean.

2. Avoid sweets. The bacteria that lives in your mouth love sugar. As they break down the sugar, it leaves behind an unpleasant smell. Sticky candies are the worst offenders staying around longer than other options. Chocolate is a better choice since it washes off the teeth faster. We suggest Ice Chips candies. They are sugar-free and made with Xylitol; a natural sweetener that has fewer calories than candies with sugar. We carry them in our office.

3. Mouth Breathing. Bad breath is sometimes caused by a decreased production of saliva, which occurs naturally when we sleep. Mouth breathing or snoring, which is sometimes associated with sleep apnea further dries out the mouth. The solution is to find out what causes your mouth breathing. Obstructive sleep apnea affects 30 million adults, many have no idea they have it. Sleep apnea can lead to constant fatigue, diminished quality of life and other health complications. To see if you or a family member qualifies for a FREE sleep apnea screening – visit our website: here 

4. Medications. Many medications can dry out your mouth contributing to bad breath. Some of the most common are medications that treat anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, pain and muscle tension. Check the drug’s list of side effects then talk to your doctor.

5. Allergies. Sinus infections and allergies cause the nose to get stuffy, which causes mouth breathing, drying out tissues and reducing saliva flow. Antihistamine stop the dripping but dry up the soft tissues of the mouth. Much of that postnasal drip can end up sticking to the back of your tongue. Dentists recommend using a tongue scraper and rinsing with a Listerine Mouthwash. Tongue scrapers are available here at Caron & Jones Dental Care – ask your dentist or hygienist!

6. Smoking or chewing tobacco. Smoking is a common cause of bad breath and affects the ability to taste and smell. Breathing in hot fumes will dry the mouth, therefore leading to bad breath. Chewing tobacco stains the teeth and irritates your gums. The solution - try to stop.

7. Alcohol. Alcohol is another cause of dry mouth. Add sugar to feed the bacteria and it is no surprise that bad breath comes next. To stimulate saliva production, we suggest Ice Chips candies. They are sugar-free and made with Xylitol; a natural sweetener that has fewer calories than candies with sugar. We carry them in our office. Remember to add lots of water when drinking!

8. Underlying Medical Conditions. Bad breath can be an early warning sign of an underlying disease including diabetes, liver and kidney issues, heart disease and certain blood disorders. Check in with your doctor.