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Bad breath expert says masks are forcing people to smell their own breath — and it’s not pleasant

Bad breath guru Dr. Harold Katz.
Bad breath guru Dr. Harold Katz. Therabreath

Notice anything smelly lately?

An expert on bad breath says COVID-19 restrictions around the world have left people smelling a little ripe, and the culprit is the constant wearing of masks.

Dr. Harold Katz told 680 CJOB that — for the first time — many people are getting a whiff of their own breath, and they don’t like the smell.

“It’s payback time, because the people close to you who get to smell your breath, now you get to smell your own breath, now you know what they’re smelling,” he said.

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“The problem happens because the bacteria which cause bad breath, they’re producing sulphur compounds… What happens when you wear the mask, it sort of rebounds off the inside of your mask right up into your nostrils, into the ganglia that sends smells right into your brain.

“Then… POW! my breath smells like ‘blank.'”

Katz said masks screw up the natural flow of a person’s saliva, which contains oxygen compounds, which are the natural enemies of the smelly bacteria.

While mask mandates remain in place, he said, people should stay hydrated as much as possible to avoid a dry mouth — but mind what you drink.

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“Stay away from alcohol. If you’re going to drink liquid, make sure it’s water, not a six-pack of Molson,” he said.

“The alcohol is going to make your mouth dry, and the last thing you want is a drier mouth than you already have.”

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Strong mouthwashes, he said, often contain high alcohol content, so while you may think you’ve freshened your breath, you’re often just making it worse.

In addition to alcohol, dairy products and sugary foods can also contribute. Instead, he said, you should look for fruits and vegetables — food that already has water in it.

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Katz said many types of medication — including antihistamines — can cause dry mouth as a side effect as well.

“If you’re taking medications, you have to increase your water intake to overcome the side effect of dry mouth, especially up in cold areas.

“In Winnipeg, people may be taking antihistamines at this time of year, and antihistamines are notorious for making the mouth dry, making your saliva very thick and sticky.”

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Smelly breath isn’t the only potential concern when following public health orders that require masks.

‘Maskne’ and other skin issues can also arise from wearing the essential safety equipment.

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Dermatologist Sonya Abdulla told Global News earlier in the pandemic that the number of reported skin issues continued to climb as mask use increased.

“We’re seeing an increased number of acne consultations since the beginning of the pandemic,” she said.

“With the introduction of masks, we’re creating an environment that promotes inflammation, where we’re getting a disruption of the skin barrier from the occlusion of the increased moisture from the mouth.

“Opt for a mask that is made out of cotton, or cotton with a silk liner,” she said. “Those natural fibres tend to be more gentle on skin.”

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