Wearing a face mask will keep you and others safer when you have to leave the house. That's the good news.
The bad news is that you now realize you suffer from halitosis. More than 80 million people suffer from chronic halitosis, or bad breath, according to Know Your Teeth.
Although bad breath can happen because of a medical infection, diabetes, kidney failure or a liver malfunction, the most common reason is poor oral hygiene.
When food particles are left on your teeth or tongue, the bacteria cause odors in your mouth.
Here are five ways to combat bad breath and make wearing a mask a more pleasant experience.
Avoid certain foods
Onions and garlic add flavor to many foods, but also add odors not easily brushed away.
"The substances that cause their bad smells make their way into your bloodstream and travel to your lungs, where you breathe them out," dentist Richard Price, a spokesman for the American Dental Association, told WebMD.
The best way to avoid the problem is to avoid the foods.
Tobacco products adversely affect your health in ways other than causing cancer, like damaging your gums, staining your teeth and causing bad breath. Isolation might be a good time to break the smoking habit. Nicotine patches or gum can help, or make an appointment with a doctor, WebMD recommends.
Avoid dry mouth
"Saliva is the key ingredient in your mouth that helps keep the odor under control because it helps wash away food particles and bacteria," according to Know Your Teeth. If you aren't producing much saliva, try drinking water or chewing sugarless gum.
Brush and floss
WebMD recommends you brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss at least once to reduce plaque. The sticky buildup on your teeth collects bacteria that cause bad breath, and trapped food adds to the problem.
Don't overdo things, though, the experts warn. If you brush too hard you can wear down your teeth, making them vulnerable to decay.
Scrape/brush your tongue
Bacteria don't just live on your teeth. To rid your tongue of odor causing bacteria, remember to brush it when you clean your teeth. If your toothbrush is too big to reach the back of your tongue, buy a scraper.
Scrapers are "designed specifically to apply even pressure across the surface of the tongue area. This removes bacteria, food debris, and dead cells that brushing alone can't take care of,"hygienist Pamela L. Quinones, past president of the American Dental Hygienists' Association, told WebMD.
To properly protect you during the coronavirus pandemic, a face mask must cover both your mouth and nose. If you practice good oral hygiene, this won't be an unpleasant experience.
Visit The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta, Ga.) at www.ajc.com