Decatur dentist: Masks don't cause cavities, could contribute to bad oral health

Some reports have shown a link between masks and cavities. One Decatur dentist says people not going to the dentist because of the virus may be the bigger reason.

Posted: May 5, 2021 10:40 AM
Updated: May 5, 2021 7:42 PM

Alabama's statewide mask mandate lasted 266 days.

What impacts have masks had on our mouths and overall health?

Is it possible that wearing masks could be leading to an increase in cavities? One Decatur dentist says not exactly. But, oral health as a whole may be slipping during the pandemic.

"People are at home more, watching more TV, playing more video games, things like that, said Dr. Josh Drake. He owns Drake and Wallace Dentistry in Decatur.

Dr. Drake says when you're bored and home like this, you tend to snack. He says these snacks are usually sweets or high in carbs. That can cause cavities. With the pandemic, people aren't necessarily chomping at the bit to return to the dentist.

"They're just now starting to make their way in here, say 12, 18, 24 months later. That tends to lead to maybe a few more problems," said Dr. Drake.

But what about the masks themselves?

Colgate released this article saying wearing masks for an extended period of time could lead to "mask mouth." Essentially, dry mouth.

But, could that lead to tooth decay? Dr. Drake says it's possible, but unlikely.

"The drier your mouth is the less saliva you have, the less natural protection you have from the bacteria. So, the drier the more prone you would be to problems," said Dr. Drake.

Dr. Drake says he hasn't seen a noticeable uptick in cavities - and he doesn't see a direct connection between facemasks and bad oral health.

"The masks I don't really think are going to be the factor here. Other than making people breath through their mouth more than they normally would,"

Dr. Drake encourages people to get a cleaning, especially if you haven't been to the dentist since the pandemic began. He says as more people are being vaccinated, he's seeing more patients return to the office. He added there are extra precautions so your cleaning may take a bit longer than normal.

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