Bad breath in a face mask? This is why you’ve noticed it

bad breath, face mask, halitosis

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2020 is a year that will be remembered for many things, one of which is the introduction of face masks into our lives. We’re now almost-permanently accompanied by a face mask wherever we go, in order to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. And that’s all well and good (because we’re always game to embrace any measures that will help save lives) but it’s also been the trigger of an unfriendly awakening for some: the realisation that their breath ain’t always so fresh.

If you’ve ever put on a face mask and thought, ‘Cor, that stinks‘, then the sad truth of it, according to dental expert Dr José Navarro, is that your own breath is the likely culprit – not the face mask itself.

“Face masks themselves don’t make your breath smell, they just make us more aware of our bad breath,” explains Dr Navarro, Dental Director at Floe. “Unfortunately, if you’re experiencing bad breath now, it probably means you had bad breath before the pandemic – you just didn’t know it.” Ah, great.

But the good news is, if this is a discovery you’ve made thanks to the mandatory introduction of face masks in shops and on public transport, you are certainly not the only one. “The only bad thing about wearing a face mask when in public is that I get to taste, and sometimes literally chew, my own bad breath,” one honest person wrote humorously on Twitter.

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bad breath, face mask, halitosis

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The reason you’re only noticing a bit of a pong – also known as halitosis – now, says the dental expert, is because of the new found proximity to your own outward breath. “The mask acts in the same way as when we cup our hand over our mouths to check our breath, but it’s constantly there. If the mask covers your mouth and nose, it means the breath stays put allowing you to smell it,” explains Dr Navarro.

Let’s not be completely negative about all this, though. Optimistic point 1 of the day is as follows: How many people are ever quite as close to your mouth for an extended period of time as your face mask is? Very few, is the answer, so the chances are you probably don’t have a secret reputation as being the bad-breathed one in the friendship group. Optimistic point of the day 2 is this: There’s very much something you can do about any halitosis you may have.

“The main reason for bad breath is poor dental hygiene,” says the dentist, adding that other potential causes for bad breath can include smoking, eating specific foods, or having an infection in your teeth or gums. “Low saliva production can also be a cause,” he notes, which is something a dentist would be able to

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How to Care For Your Teeth If You’ve Had to Reschedule Your Cleaning

a woman brushing her teeth: How to Care For Your Teeth If You've Had to Reschedule Your Cleaning

© Getty Images / PeopleImages
How to Care For Your Teeth If You’ve Had to Reschedule Your Cleaning

a woman brushing her teeth: How to Care For Your Teeth If You've Had to Reschedule Your Cleaning

© Getty Images
How to Care For Your Teeth If You’ve Had to Reschedule Your Cleaning

This spring, my routine dental cleaning was cancelled due to the ongoing pandemic. It was a necessary and recommended appointment change, but it did leave me wondering if I should be caring for my teeth any differently in order to prevent cavities before my rescheduled appointment.

After all, I’ve also had to push appointments in the past due to calendar conflicts, and I actually ended up with some sensitivity and a cavity by the time I got into the dentist’s chair. It wasn’t great.

According to Sophya Morghem, DMD, MS, a general dentist at Sunset Dentistry in San Francisco, a few changes should be made in order to keep your gums and teeth healthy before meeting with your dentist.

First, if you’re hesitant to go to the dentist due to health and safety concerns, Dr. Morghem recommends patients ask all the questions needed in order to feel safe coming into the office. You’ll also want to follow any personalized advice and health protocols recommended by your doctor and/or dentist.

However, if you do need to reschedule (or have already rescheduled), you might need to amp up your brushing and flossing routines. For example, Dr. Morghem recommends brushing after each meal.

Flossing is nonnegotiable, too. “The best time to floss is before bed, or after the last meal of the day,” Dr. Morghem told POPSUGAR. And you’ll want to pay attention to the type of floss you’re using, too.

“You’ll want to use a thick woven floss that will act like a loofa, cleaning the sides of the teeth as you go,” Dr. Morghem said. “If you are prone to getting food stuck between your teeth after meals, you should consider flossing after meals as well.”

This might be the time to reevaluate what type of toothbrush you’re using as well. Dr. Morghem recommends a small electric toothbrush with a small toothbrush head. “This will make your tooth brushing at home more efficient and clean off more plaque. It also helps to compensate for poor brushing habits.”

Gallery: Here’s What Happens When You Only Brush Your Teeth Once a Day (Best Life)

A water flosser isn’t an essential, but Dr. Morghem said that if you have dental restorations, you might want to consider investing in the tool. However, she made it clear that using a water flosser doesn’t take the place of traditional floss.

“While the water flosser can help eliminate large debris, the traditional floss is still the gold standard for removing plaque that is attached to the tooth surface.”

For mouthwash, Dr. Morghem recommends an alcohol-free version so it won’t disrupt oral flora. “Remember there are good and bad bacteria in your mouth – you want to maintain a healthy balance.”

It might also be a good idea to just be mindful of foods

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