Let’s “face” it: Wearing a mask in public is a big adjustment for many of us. While masks and other PPE (personal protective equipment) are a vitally important way to help slow the spread of COVID-19, they aren’t always the most comfortable thing to wear. Masks can be itchy and hot and can move around the face while in use, especially if we try talking while we wear them. They can even smell bad, making wearing them a nuisance. But they don’t have to be. If you notice your mask has a strange odor, it could be something a little closer to home: your breath. Here’s how to eliminate bad breath from your mask and make wearing one a little more bearable.
First, make sure your mask is clean!
Do you have a reusable mask? Give it a quick sniff before wearing it. If it smells OK, then any odor you may notice while wearing it is probably coming from your mouth. If your mask is washable, it may be time for a bath.
Before You Go Out
If you know you’ll be going out in public and will need to wear your mask, there are a few steps you can take to make your mask smell a little bit fresher. First, brush and floss your teeth – even if you don’t think you need to, you don’t want to find out once you’re in your mask that you were wrong. Brush for at least two minutes and floss between every tooth. Don’t rinse your paste when you’re done. This will leave fluoride on your teeth and keep your breath smelling fresher, longer.
Watch What You Eat
If you know you’ll need to wear your mask but can’t get to a toothbrush, consider what you consume beforehand. Spicy foods, garlic, onions and even coffee can leave your breath smelling not as awesome as it could be. Trap that inside a mask and you’ve got a recipe for unpleasant aromas. If you have consumed something strong and can’t get to a toothbrush, try a mint or chewing some sugarless gum before you need to wear your mask. You may want to skip the gum with the mask on because the chewing motion may cause your mask to shift while you wear it, lessening its level of protection.
Should You Try a Filtered Mask?
Filtered masks help ventilate out some of the air in your mask and could possibly help with strange odors in your mask, but don’t rely on just the filter. Make sure your breath isn’t the cause of your mask’s aroma, because it could be a sign that something is amiss in your mouth.
If brushing alone doesn’t quell the smell, you could be suffering from a more serious problem such as periodontal disease. Contact Dr. Mingus if you have any concerns about your breath or oral health. He can help you figure out what’s going on.