Oral Health Solutions

Wearing a Mask and Bad Breath-What You Need to Know

Disposable masks

During this pandemic known as COVID-19, more and more people are finding themselves protecting others and themselves by wearing a mask. You will find masks in all different shapes and styles but one thing you will find in common with those who wear one is noticeable bad breath underneath their mask.

In this article I will discuss what you need to know about the correlation of wearing a mask and bad breath. I will also explain what you can do to deal with this unfortunate side effect of mask wearing.
According to Wikipedia, bad breath is a noticeably unpleasant odor of the breath. The American Dental Association (ADA) estimates that up to 50 percent of the population has dealt with bad breath issues at some point in their lives. Wearing a mask can make you more conscientiously aware of this condition.

In regard to mask wearing, an article from the New England Journal of Medicine states, “It is apparent that many people with SARS-CoV-2 infection are asymptomatic or presymptomatic yet highly contagious and that these people account for a substantial fraction of all transmissions. Universal masking helps to prevent such people from spreading virus-laden secretions, whether they recognize that they are infected or not.

There is controversy over mask wearing and some authorities are even stating that mask wearing can do more harm than good. If you choose to wear a mask, I would like to help you deal with any bad mask breath issues you may encounter.

Read on and I will explain the underlying causes of bad mask breath and what you can do to eliminate them. Also, I will discuss what you can do ASAP to treat your breath under your mask. Let’s face it, mask wearing may not be going away any time soon so you need to know what you can do today to make it a more pleasant experience.

What’s Happening Behind Your Mask

While most of you would think that wearing a mask is the cause of your bad breath, it is not. Your breath is not good to begin with and wearing a mask just makes you more aware of it.

The moisture from our breath is propelled to the inside of our mask. As a mask dries, it absorbs the smell of your breath and makes you consciously aware of how it smells. It would be the same as if you breathed into your cupped hands and then smelled that air.

Unless you replace your mask, you are constantly exposed to the smell as it is enclosed literally right in front of your nose! In order to alleviate your stinky mask you guessed it, you need to alleviate your stinky breath!

Good news…there are ways you can do this. As a dental hygienist, I would like to share with you the best options you have to deal with mask breath and ways to prevent the stink.

Bacteria in plaque lurks between your teeth, under your gums and on soft tissues like your cheeks and the surface of your tongue. When this bacterial plaque breaks down, it gives off a smelly gas called volatile sulfur compounds or VSCs.

This gas smells like rotten eggs and will be absorbed into the material of your mask so you can smell it over and over again. You will smell this until you have a chance to discard your mask or wash it.

Ways to Eliminate Bad Breath Under Your Mask

Cutting down on bacterial plaque will go a long way toward eliminating bad breath. In order to do this, it is crucial that you evaluate your oral hygiene routine. Twice daily brushing using the best electric toothbrush is the main way to reduce bacteria.

Cleaning between your teeth using floss, interdental brushes or an oral irrigator will remove the hard to reach bacteria from between your teeth. These bacteria cannot be reached by your toothbrush and must be targeted separately with other methods. An oral irrigator will remove twice as much bacterial plaque as flossing can and is your best tool for cleaning between your teeth. If you prefer to use string floss, make sure to use the correct technique for effective plaque removal.

There is an amazing product new to the market that combines the effectiveness of a sonic toothbrush with the benefits of an oral irrigator. This product is called the Waterpik Sonic-Fusion and it is an innovative solution for superior plaque control. Read more about how the Waterpik Sonic-Fusion works in a related article.

The bacteria in our mouths is called our oral micro flora. Bad breath can be caused by an imbalance of the oral micro flora (or good and bad bacteria in your mouth). Certain factors can cause this imbalance. These factors can include stress, dry mouth, medication, poor oral hygiene and smoking to name a few. Use of antibiotics and mouth rinses claiming to kill 99.9% of all bacteria will also disrupt the optimal balance of good and bad bacteria in our mouths. This is not a good thing. Contrary to belief, we actually need certain bacteria in our mouths to maintain oral health.

By using oral probiotics you will be repopulating good bacteria and crowding out bad bacteria known to cause dental issues such as decay, gum disease and bad breath. Oral probiotics are different from the probiotics used to colonize the gut. These probiotics come in the form of lozenges and are targeted toward the bacteria in the mouth. When the mouth is exposed to oral probiotics, such as the probiotics in Hyperbiotics Pro Dental oral probiotics, it becomes colonized with bacteria unable to produce volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs). No VSCs equals no smelly gases or bad breath.
The majority of bad breath causing bacteria reside on the surface of the tongue. In fact by cleaning your tongue, you can reduce bad breath by as much as 70%. You can remove bacteria from the tongue by gently brushing it with your toothbrush. To more effectively reduce bacteria from the tongue, a tongue cleaner should be used. Learn more about using a tongue cleaner and what a healthy tongue looks like in a related article.

Other causes of Bad Breath When Wearing a Mask

Dry mouth is a significant cause of bad breath. Many people suffer from dry mouth as a side effect of medication, increasing age or systemic medical conditions. Our saliva is needed to help cleanse our mouths, neutralize acids and reduce volatile sulfur compounds.

When wearing a mask, we tend to rely more on mouth breathing than we normally would to obtain adequate oxygen intake. Without a mask, more breathing occurs through the nose. A mask causes us to compensate for lack of air flow by breathing more in and out of an open mouth behind our masks. This further increases dry mouth symptoms. Dry mouth can also be increased by other factors such as stress or anxiety.

It is important to increase your saliva to decrease bad breath symptoms. This can be done by using a supplement to stimulate your saliva. The best all natural product for stimulating saliva is Xylimelts. This is a discreet, oral adhering disc containing a natural product called xylitol which increases saliva flow and can be easily used while wearing a mask. Xylimelts are recommended by dentists for dry mouth symptoms related to mask wearing and for dry mouth symptoms when sleeping.

Another obvious reason for dry mouth when wearing a mask is the fact that you are not able to drink water or other liquids when your mouth is covered by a mask. Plan to take frequent breaks from wearing your mask so you can stay properly hydrated and stimulate your saliva.

Gum disease can also be the cause of persistent bad breath and would be noticeable to you under a mask. The process starts with plaque bacteria. Toxins are given off from bacteria which causes inflammation of the gum tissue. Volatile sulfur or smelly gases are given off as the bacteria break down and create by-products.

As gum disease progresses, the gums can start to pull away from the teeth creating spaces called pockets. The pockets harbor more bacteria making it harder to keep gum disease under control. Having regular cleanings with your hygienist and dental exams with your dentist will help to maintain the health of your teeth and gums.

What’s a Fast Solution to Bad Mask Breath?

Now you know the underlying causes that may be causing your bad mask breath and what you can do to treat them. But what can you do right now, as in today? Good news, there is a quick solution that is not only effective but is all natural as well.

Tri-ology is an antibacterial, antiviral natural antiseptic mouth rinse that preserves the delicate microbiome in our mouths. It supplements our saliva and replenishes essential nutrients. This mouth rinse does not indiscriminately kill bacteria which can wipe out the natural microbiome of our mouths. Remember, it is important to maintain homeostasis (balance) of the bacteria in the mouth to maintain oral health.

Dental professionals recommend Tri-ology oral rinse to their patients for treatment of bad breath. Patients are instructed to rinse with Tri-ology for one minute twice a day for optimal benefits. This rinse is available through your dental professional but can now also be purchased on Amazon.

Besides treating bad breath, dental professionals are recommending Tri-ology rinse to their patients for other reasons. Here is a list of the ingredients in Tri-ology and how they work:

Whole leaf wheatgrass

  • One of the most powerful treatments for gum disease, infections and sores in the mouth
  • Antimicrobial and antibacterial properties have shown to strengthen and whiten teeth and prevent decay
  • Nutrients supplied to the teeth and tissues
  • Wheatgrass chlorophyll treat gum inflammation by neutralizing toxins
  • 100% organic (certified), vegan, gluten-free and non-GMO (genetically modified organism)

Carbamide peroxide

    • Reduces cavity risk, kills bacteria and disrupts biofilm with its antibacterial and antiseptic properties
    • Penetrates into enamel to discolored molecules within the tooth and whitens teeth
    • Removes bacteria with a micro foaming action and removes debris from above and below the gumline
    • Oral pH is balanced

    Organic aloe vera

    • Reduces pain and accelerates healing
    • Treats gum disease and mouth sores such as cold sores, canker sores, herpes simplex viruses and lichen planus
    • Immunomodulatory properties (enhances the immune system), anti-inflammatory and anti-viral
    • Antioxidants that fight against harmful bacteria such as vitamin A, C and E

    Organic peppermint oil

    • Natural fresh flavor
    • Extremely effective at killing harmful anaerobic bacteria (bacteria that require low levels of oxygen) that live in the mouth

    Organic sweet almond oil

    • Contains high amounts of vitamins A and E, zinc, potassium and protein for healthy tissues
    • Rich in essential fatty acids and unsaturated fats that are easily absorbed by the oral tissues

    Organic birchwood xylitol

    • United States sourced and non-GMO
    • Decreases acidity in mouth with alkalizing agents
    • Reduces bacterial infections
    • Reduces bad breath
    • Thought to inhibit the proliferation of oral cancer

    When all of these ingredients are combined, you have Tri-ology’s patented formula. This unique synergistic combination of antioxidants and antimicrobials helps to not only treat bad breath but aids in the prevention and treatment of infections and oral disease. Please read a related article to find out more of Tri-ology’s amazing properties as recommended by dental professionals.


    Mask wearing is becoming more and more prevalent and this practice may indeed be here for a long time. Do all you can to maintain your oral health and prevent bad breath under your mask. Remember that a very important part of maintaining your oral health is to have regular visits with your dental professional.

    I invite you to incorporate these tips to treat and prevent bad breath. If you are looking for a more immediate solution, I suggest you try Tri-ology rinse. Not only will you be improving your breath but the health of your whole mouth. A healthy mouth equals a healthy you! Please feel free to leave any questions and comments below and I would be happy to help.


    1. phillip

      Honestly, this has just hit the nail on the head here because I have been very conscious of what kind of smell I have been having behind my mask and honestly, it has been very woeful. Thank you so much for providing these details here. I will really try all my best to ensure that I can make a difference with time. Thanks!

      1. Michelle Mussehl, RDH


        This is an issue most people do not feel comfortable talking about. I am glad to offer you suggestions on what might help improve bad breath behind your mask. Thank you for your comment and good luck to you!


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