Well, if you had asked us last year - what we thought 2020 was going to look like...it wasn't...it wasn't this.
But by now, you may be physically used to wearing your mask everywhere you go. That's great! What's not so great? Mask breath. 🤢. We know, we know, it's not something we talk about often, but you may have noticed that after a couple of hours of wearing a face mask, that it starts to smell not-so-fresh. So what can you do to minimize the unpleasant smell?
Here are some suggestions:
1| Brush and floss your teeth after meals, before wearing your mask.
This might mean switching up your morning routine from brushing-before-breakfast to brushing-after-breakfast. (If you're really desperate, brushing before and after breakfast). Or if you're not used to brushing and flossing after eating lunch, it's a worthwhile habit to start integrating into your day-to-day. This can help remove odour-causing microorganisms in your mouth and temporarily blessing you with minty, fresh breath.
2| Brush and floss after pungent or strong-smelling products, foods and beverages. Or limit their consumption.
This sounds like we're repeating the exact same tip as above, just with different words - but this addresses consumption of drinks and/or snacks between main meals - like your mid-morning coffee. Or if you had some particularly garlicy crackers. Or something containing a lot of strong spices.
Also included in this category is smoking. By using a face mask, you'll be locking in the breath you get from smoking. It also leaves you more vulnerable to getting periodontal (gum) disease, which - as we'll cover down below, also contributes to smelly breath.
If you really find that strong-smelling food products affect the way your body smells, you might consider limiting their consumption altogether. As an example of how powerful garlic can be, did you know that you can taste it in your mouth and smell it, by rubbing a cut piece of garlic on your feet? The effects aren't immediate (give it about an hour), but it eventually gets there. Check it out for yourself - instructions are here! If you're still in quarantine, it's not like you don't have the time, LOL.
3| Get into the habit of using a non-alcohol based mouthwash.
Alcohol can be drying to the mouth and when your mouth is dehydrated, there is less saliva to wash away odour-causing bacteria.
Side note (a fairly important one, we might add!), it's also a good idea to minimize the drinking of alcoholic beverages for the same reason. We thought we'd mention the mouthwash first - because so many people just grab whatever's on the shelves (unaware that it could be making things worse). So, remember to take a bit of extra time to read the labels and make sure your mouthwash doesn't contain alcohol.
4| Breathe through your nose instead of your mouth.
This has the same reasoning as the alcohol - you don't want to dry out the mouth.
5| Stay hydrated.
Drinking sufficient water can also help with bad mask breath (same reasoning as above - the alcohol and mouth-breathing). An important note here: both alcohol and coffee are dehydrating to the body, so by drinking more of these liquids, you could be exacerbating the bad breath. Stick to water if you can.
We know: you're not supposed to fiddle with your mask too much. So definitely avoid sipping beverages with your mask, but take in larger quantities at less frequent intervals to avoid touching your mask too much. And, whenever you're at home (mask-free), be sure to drink a lot of water.
6| Don't forget to clean your tongue and the inner cheeks!
You can get tongue scrapers to remove bacteria on your tongue - as they could be contributing to your bad breath. Start from the back of your tongue all the way to the tip.
When we say 'brush your teeth', we actually should be saying, 'brush your mouth' because your mouth is home to billions of bacteria. So, don't forget to brush everything thoroughly but gently.
7| Lay off the sugar!
While inherently not stinky, sugars in your mouth can feed the bacteria in your mouth - leading to emissions from those little buggers and creating bad breath.
8| Don't overdo the protein
If you've ever tried a protein-heavy diet (like Keto or Atkins), you may reach a stage where you feed your body so much protein and not enough carbs, that your body starts generating energy from protein (where it usually generates energy from carbohydrates). The problem with this is that it also creates ketone by-products during the metabolism process and they contribute to bad breath.
9| Get regular check-ups from your dentist and from your medical doctor
Sometimes an underlying health condition or certain medications can be the culprit in stinky breath. Getting appropriate treatment or alternatives should help. For example, patients with periodontal disease often have a distinctive breath.
10| If you have dry mouth (xerostomia), you may want to consider asking your dentist or family doctor if they have any suggestions to improve your condition.
Dry mouth often leads to bad breath and trapping it inside of a mask would amplify how you feel about it. Because it is considered a medical condition, you should speak to a professional about it - they may suggest products specifically designed to help xerostomia or changing existing medications may help too - it depends on what's causing your dry mouth.