(WHDH) — While mask-wearing is mandatory in many public spaces and an essential tool in guarding against the spread of COVID-19, dentists have been seeing a rise in serious oral health issues since people began wearing masks for extended periods of time, according to a new report.

“Mask mouth” has become a trend since the beginning of the pandemic, with people developing bad breath, dry mouth, tooth decay, bleeding gums, mouth ulcers, and other oral health issues, a new report from Express Dentist indicates.

“Wearing a face mask can have serious consequences for oral health. However, avoiding this protective measure is not advisable, because of its critical role in slowing the spread of COVID-19,” the report stated.

The report identified a number of possible causes for mask mouth, including disruption of breathing, disruption of thermoregulation, dehydration, and breathing recycled air.

The good news is that mask mouth is a treatable and preventable condition.

Express Dentist recommends deep breathing, staying hydrated, and taking regular breaks from mask wearing by finding a safe outdoor area as ways to prevent mask mouth. The report also suggests washing your cloth face mask every day and throwing out disposable masks after use.

Anyone who notices symptoms like bleeding gums, bad breath, discolored teeth or dental pain should contact their dentist immediately.

For more on mask mouth and how to prevent it, click here.

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