After noticing a rise in ‘mask mouth’ due to the pandemic, Amber Ojak provides her top seven tips for managing halitosis.
Ever since the introduction of wearing face masks due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, I have found a lot more of my patients have been noticing that they may have halitosis.
Over the last six months, many patients have told me they are experiencing what I have called ‘mask mouth’.
As we all wear masks more frequently, it is quite obvious how halitosis may become more apparent to us. However, it is quite an embarrassing topic for many people to approach and talk about.
More and more of my patients have been asking for ways to keep their breath fresh but want to label their issue.
Halitosis is an indicator of underlying issues such as poor oral health, dehydration, periodontal disease or an infection, so it is very important to control this for the patient’s health.
Here are my top tips for addressing halitosis clinically.
Patients can find talking about halitosis embarrassing so it is important we address these issues sensitively.
Ask your patients how they feel about their mouth and if there are any areas that concern them. This is a great way to gain insight into their worries about halitosis. This can ignite change in our patients and can help us develop a treatment plan to meet their needs.
Some patients can find talking about halitosis uncomfortable. It is important to let our patients address this themselves rather than being told they have something wrong.
They are not alone!
A small step in helping patients with halitosis is making sure they know they are not the only ones suffering with this condition.
This can help patients feel like they are not isolated in the situation with everyone having specific issues with mask wearing, such as halitosis or dry skin.
Emphasis on oral health
Making sure patients know the importance of oral health is key to battling halitosis.
Encouraging frequent dental and hygiene appointments will help patients to understand what they should be doing at home, as well as aiding in the removal of any plaque retentive factors.
Patients can be shown how to use aids properly. They can become motivated to get on top of their oral health at home.
Regular appointments also means ruling out underlying health issues that may be resulting in halitosis.
One size may not fit all
We are aware there are many products available to help reduce halitosis. However, we must remember that some patients will not be open to them all. Products include tongue scrapers, mouth washes, gels to aid in dry mouth or ID aids.
Having a pre-prepared list, which can be highlighted and printed off, or sent to patients, can really help them to use trial and error with what works for them, and what does not.
Alternatively, it can be seen as an ‘aide-mémoire’ to the products we have discussed with them during their appointment!
As a clinician who has had a sudden influx in patients asking about ways to combat bad breath, I have found myself reading up on different types of halitosis. These include morning breath or smoking as well as different types of tongue scrapers.
Sometimes looking more into the subject means I am more able to offer the best solutions to my patients. For example, using sugar-free chewing gum or products that directly combat halitosis.
One of the simplest things we are able to do is advise patients to change their masks frequently.
Over the last few weeks, I have had multiple patients attend with now very old and dirty masks. I have been able to highlight to them that changing their masks frequently can also reduce mask mouth.
Many patients may be guilty of not drinking enough water each day, resulting in an increase of dry mouth.
Encouraging patients to drink more water will help prevent this. It could also be a good idea to suggest to patients that alcohol and caffeine consumption should be limited. These can cause dehydration. This will benefit overall health, too!
This article first appeared in Clinical Dentistry magazine. Sign up and receive the latest issue of Clinical Dentistry magazine here.