Amidst the pandemic an oral condition has become common, known as the ‘Mask Mouth’. A non-clinical condition arising due to prolonged uses of surgical or face masks, is resulting in an increase use of mouth fresheners.
Dr. Brig. R Jaiswal, Retd Dentist, Army Dental Corps says, “To counteract the bad breath due to mask mouth people use mouth fresheners, sprays and mouth washes. Prolonged and frequent use of these can destroy the good bacteria in the mouth and can in turn increase the bad odour”.
Talking about overall oral hygiene, Dr. Jaiswal mentions that tongue scraping is commonly neglected. About 80 per cent of mouth odour is contributed by the gunk on your tongue itself. “Brush twice a day, floss, use xylitol-based mouthwashes and regularly visit your dentist for better oral hygiene”, suggests Dr. Jaiswal. Further, mask mouth can also lead to oral dryness and tooth decay. Hydration plays an important role in counteracting a dry mouth. Excessive consumption of sugar based mints and chewing gums can lead to hyposecretion of saliva. “Since our saliva contains certain enzymes which kill bacteria and germs, a dry mouth can cause a development of the same causing bad breath.”
On March 20, the world marked World Oral Health Day to aggrandize the significance or oral health, but the fate of it in India has still remained the same. In India, 85 to 90 per cent adults have dental cavities while 60 to 80 per cent children suffer from the same. What’s more shocking is that more than 50 per cent of people receive medications as advised by a chemist rather than visiting a dentist. “How many times do you visit a dentist in a year? Sometimes, not even once. Poor brushing techniques, lack of proper oral routines and carelessness can lead to bad breath or halitosis”, says Dr. Kriti Garg, oral and maxillofacial surgeon at Rama Dental College, Kanpur.
Even if these numbers didn’t put you in a dooms way, another fact might. Poor oral hygiene (POH) can cause oral cancer. “Most of the cancers are caused by tobacco chewing and alcohol. POH causes an increased conversion of tobacco metabolite into nitrosamines which cause oral cancer”, explains Dr. Garg. It doesn’t end here, POH causes the alcohol to form an Aldehyde (a class I carcinogen) which can cause cancer.
Another fact that most of us overlook is using the right toothbrush. “It is prescribed to use a soft toothbrush and to change it every two and a half months. Hard brushes damage the enamel, developing sensitivity and tooth decay”, concludes Dr. Garg. With oral health being neglected just like the end credits of a movie, it would be disheartening to know that 52,000 deaths are reported annually, due to tobacco chewing and poor oral hygiene.