MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Now that Alabamians are required to wear masks while in public, dentists are advising patients on how to maintain oral hygiene and what the red flags could be if something doesn’t smell right.

As masks become the new normal, Dr. Barb McClatchie wants her patients to be aware of smells that may not be.

“We understand that foods can cause bad odors, but many times it’s a red flag for some other problems,” she said. 

As a dentist, Dr. McClatchie says unpleasant smells while wearing a mask could be a sign of a more serious condition.

“Bacteria drives odor, and if you’re smelling your breath, you may be starting a gum infection or maybe have a cavity and maybe have a tooth infection,” said Dr. McClatchie.

While focusing on protection from the virus, Dr. McClatchie urges patients to practice good oral hygiene like brushing and flossing.

“It’s kind of a time to look in the mirror and ask yourself am I doing everything I possibly can to be as healthy as I possibly can,” said Dr. McClatchie.

She also recommends using hydrogen peroxide as a rinse and taking a chewable probiotic to help fight viruses and infection.

While home care is important, Dr. McClatchie said nothing beats going to the dentist to get checked out. 

“All of our routines have been disrupted with the pandemic so it’s time to get back to the discipline and the proper home care and visiting your dental professional,” she said.

Dr. McClatchie also recommends drinking plenty of water to help avoid bad breath.