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The phenomenon of mask mouth, a term coined to describe how wearing a mask may lead to oral hygiene issues, has many running to their dentists for a cleaning. According to Tammy Sofer, a Toronto-based dental hygienist for more than 25 years and the founder of reusable dental floss company, SimplyFloss, wearing a mask for long periods of time can lead to a dry mouth, which she says is a breeding ground for odour-causing bacteria. “Normally, if you’re drinking water throughout the day, things are moving around and your mouth is more moist. You have a way of getting rid of the bacteria. When that doesn’t happen, the bacteria causes the smell,” she says, adding that bad breath may have already been present but is more noticeable because of mask wearing. “It’s not always new.”

To keep things fresh, Sofer recommends safely sipping on water when possible and passing on sugary snacks between meals. She also recommends following proper oral hygiene practices, including brushing the tongue, insides of the cheeks and the roof of the mouth, where there can sometimes be more bacteria than on the teeth, flossing and scheduling your regular professional cleaning. “Right now, dental offices are open," she says. "And it is important to visit because that could change in a month.”

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