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As if the debate over face mask-wearing amid COVID-19 isn’t contentious enough in some quarters, a dental practice is warning that keeping your mouth covered all or most of the time could allegedly lead to harmful hygiene issues such as gum recession (i.e., periodontal disease) and bad breath.
A Manhattan dentist calls this potential side effect “mask mouth” as a play on “meth mouth” that colloquially refers to the decay of teeth and gums among drug addicts.
Explaining the phenomenon, the dentist, Dr. Rob Ramondi told the New York Post that “We’re seeing inflammation in people’s gums that have been healthy forever, and cavities in people who have never had them before. About 50% of our patients are being impacted by this, [so] we decided to name it ‘mask mouth’ — after ‘meth mouth.’”
Ramondi’s colleague Dr. Marc Sclafani, explained that “People tend to breathe through their mouth instead of through their nose while wearing a mask. 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…saliva is also what neutralizes acid in the mouth and helps prevent tooth decay and gum disease.”
Periodontal issues constitute a risk factor for serious cardiovascular disorders.
The dentists added that bad breath is already a sign of gum disease or an excess of tongue bacteria, although it is encouraging patients to schedule a cleaning.
Depending on where you live, however, public health authorities banned prophylaxis, the official term, for a period of months during the pandemic and may currently be imposing certain limitations and protocols on the procedure that makes it less thorough.
Possible home remedies to address mask mouth may include consuming more water, reducing caffeine intake, installing a humidifier, gargling with alcohol-free mouthwash, tongue scraping, and avoid cigarettes, they said.
Although government recommendations have appeared inconsistent since the outbreak, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently recommends facial coverings when social distancing is impractical.
Government edicts about mandatory or voluntary mask-wearing vary from state to state, and also vary in the private sector, which, in part, have led to some explosive mask-shaming incidents captured on cell phone video.
Mask wearing has nonetheless achieved wide-ranging acceptance. It obviously makes common sense for healthcare providers as well others who are first responders.
Being forced to wear one out in the fresh air is another matter.
If it turns out that gum recession is a potentially dangerous health outcome from prolonged face mask usage, that could escalate the allegations about an infringement on personal freedom to a whole new level.
In other words, it could become like pulling teeth to get some people to wear masks.
There appear to be some alternative views in the scientific community about the efficacy of masks. Writing in Technocracy News, retired neurosurgeon Russell Blaylock claims that based on the available literature, there is no connection between wearing a mask and protecting oneself from becoming infected with influenza. Masks by themselves could also create potential health risks, he additionally claimed.
Two Oxford epidemiologists claim that there is no solid evidence that mask-wearing makes a difference.
In the context of herd immunity, Sweden reportedly achieved a good outcome thus far without imposing a strict lockdown or implementing compulsory face mask-wearing.
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