What is maks mouth and how to prevent it in children?

For the past year and a half, wearing a mask in public places has been the norm. Wearing a mask can protect you and your children from diseases, germs, and viruses, and it also plays an important role in slowing the spread of these contagious diseases. With all the benefits that masks can provide for your children and the greater good, dentists have been coming across more mask mouth cases in their patients. The term mask mouth is relatively new since wearing masks in public is new for most of us. Although it's not an official diagnosis, it refers to a range of teeth and gum problems associated with wearing a mask for long periods of time. Let's talk about mask mouth, what causes it, what it is, and how to prevent it in your children.

Mask mouth and its causes

1. Tooth Decay

The main reason for mask mouth is due to dehydration. When our children wear masks, they drink less water than usual because it's not as accessible to drink a sip of water here and there. This can lead to dehydration and dry mouth. Having less saliva in their mouths increases their risk for cavities because saliva helps wash away bacteria from foods we eat.

2. Bad Breath

When children wear masks, they tend to breath through their mouth, and this often causes dry mouth. A dry mouth is the perfect environment for odor-causing bacteria to grow on their tongue, and this may result in bad breath or halitosis. Eating strong scented foods such as garlic and then wearing a mask will also result in bad breath.

3. Gum Disease

Another reason for mask mouth is due to the recycled air that children breathe in while wearing a mask. Due to recycled air, more carbon dioxide is present than usual, according to Aerosol and Air Quality Research. This can change the bacteria in the mouth which can signal your child's immune system that there are too many bacteria in their mouth, and this can cause inflammation in the gums also known as gingivitis.

How to Prevent Mask Mouth

Mask mouth refers to symptoms related to bad breath, inflamed gums, tooth decay, or any other dental problems due to wearing a mask for a long period of time. Here are some ways you can help your child prevent mask mouth.

  • Have your child move away from others and take a mask break at least once every hour. Give them water to drink which will keep their mouth moist and improve the flow of saliva. Avoid drinks with lots of sugar in them, like juice and soda. Another option is to chew sugar free gum to stimulate saliva.
  • Wear a new mask every day. Encourage your child to wear a clean mask that does not have a lot of bacteria or germs on it. The CDC recommends washing or throwing out your mask after every use.
  • Maintain good oral hygiene habits to fight mask mouth. Our Grin123 kit contains everything you need to help your child learn good oral hygiene habits. It even includes a fun rewards chart with stickers. Many professionals and parents agree that a rewards chart can improve brushing compliance in children. Brush your child’s teeth twice a day with a fluoridated toothpaste to protect your teeth against cavities. Choose a toothpaste without chemicals that may increase dry mouth symptoms. An excellent choice is Grin toothpaste! Also, floss your child’s teeth once a day to remove food and debris between their teeth. If you aren't already, brush your child’s tongue or use a tongue scraper (-link to Grin) to scrape odor-causing bacteria off their tongue.
  • Bring your child to the dentist every six months for a check up and professional cleaning, and to make sure their teeth and gums are healthy.

Moms and dads, you guys are doing a great job! Share this article with a parent friend who you think may find this helpful. And, if you haven’t yet, join Grin’s community (email list, Facebook, and Instagram) for more information and tips about taking care of your and your child’s teeth. We are here for you!

About the Author

Brought to you by Grin Oral Care Expert, Dr. Erica. Aside from being a phenomenal Dentist, Erica is a mom to an energetic and extremely curious toddler. She created @mama.molar.dmd because she wants to educate moms and dads about oral health for their little ones. Erica loves products that are good for your children's growing bodies as well as the environment that they will be living in for the future to come.