Ways to fix ‘mask breath’

PETALING JAYA: Knocked out by your own bad breath when you put on the face mask?

Don’t blame the mask.

“If you are wearing a face mask and can smell your bad breath, I think that is quite serious because usually we can’t smell our own breath, ” said Malaysian Dental Association (MDA) president-elect Dr Lim Chiew Wooi.

He said there are a lot of contributing factors to bad breath, citing as examples poor oral hygiene, certain medical reasons or food that was consumed.

“There is a lot of bacteria harbouring inside our mouth, on our tongue and gums.”

Dr Lim pointed out that dry mouth, too, can contribute to bad breath, adding that drinking enough water is also important

As such, he said, it was necessary to go for regular dental check-ups to do cleaning, scaling and polishing.

He explained that the face mask does not contribute to bad breath but has instead made people more aware of their breath.

Since face masks have become a daily necessity, marketing manager Farid Ismail, 33, said he has noticed that he develops bad breath over the course of the day.

“When that happens, I would usually take off the face mask for a while and drink some water, ” he said.

Farid said he now carries with him a toothbrush and brushes his teeth after eating.

Ruthie Jayendran, 31, said she eats mint sweets to freshen her mouth when she senses that her breath is smelly.

“I’ve been wearing a face mask for over a year.

“In order to get proper ventilation, the mouth needs to be exposed but since it is covered, there’s no ventilation in there. So, I have to regularly drink an appropriate amount of water to ensure that my mouth doesn’t smell, ” the engineer said.

Accountant Evangelista Lim thinks her breath is “pretty fine” on most days.

However, she said she gets bad breath when she does not drink enough water or when she is hungry.

“I always have a mouth spray with me, ” said Lim, 32.

According to the Health Ministry, bad breath, or halitosis, is due to poor oral hygiene, tooth decay, gum disease, food stuck in between teeth, unclean dentures, morning breath, dry mouth and breathing through the mouth.

The condition can also be due to consumption of food such as onions, garlic, coffee, tobacco and alcohol.

Underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, liver disease, sinusitis or throat infection, lung infection and diseases of the alimentary tract (oesophagus and stomach) can also lead to bad breath, the ministry said.

To prevent bad breath, the ministry advised people to maintain a high level of oral hygiene through effective tooth brushing, flossing and mouth rinsing, and cleaning the tongue with a toothbrush or a tongue scraper.

“If you wear braces or dentures, clean the appliance thoroughly before placing it back in your mouth, ” it said.

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