By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert
We bet you’ve heard and read about the importance of drinking water for your health. Some authorities recommend six glasses per day, some recommend eight glasses per day. Some propose that we drink at least half an ounce of water for every pound of body weight. That translates into at least 80 ounces (10 eight-ounce servings) for someone who weighs 160 pounds.
There are many ways in which drinking water and staying hydrated contribute to your health, but drinking water also offers critical benefits to your oral and dental health as well.
Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff want to encourage everyone to drink plenty of water every day, for both their overall health and their dental wellness. This advice applies to children as well as adults.
How Does Drinking Water Benefit Oral Health?
Water Washes Away Food Particles
Even when we can’t brush, we can rinse food particles away from our teeth and gums by drinking water. Getting those particles away from our teeth and gums is a victory, but if we wash them away with soda or fruit juice it kind of defeats the purpose, right? Instead, rinsing with water leaves no sugar or material behind for bacteria to eat. It also dilutes the acid in your mouth, obstructing tooth decay. Rinsing with fluoridated water has the added benefit of lightly coating your teeth with a defensive layer that helps remineralize any damage to enamel.
Water Discourages Dry Mouth
You may not realize that tooth decay thrives in a dry mouth. This is because saliva contains minerals such as calcium and phosphate, which help discourage tooth decay. Drinking water helps promote more saliva production in your mouth, which is more ammunition in the battle against tooth decay.
Fluoride Fights Tooth Decay
One pivotal way that water strengthens teeth is due to the added fluoride. We’re lucky to be in the United States where fluoride is added to municipal water in nearly every jurisdiction. Fluoride is a natural cavity-fighter and promotes strong teeth. In kids, it strengthens the tooth enamel in their developing teeth and helps prevent tooth decay. Fluoride in combination with saliva helps prevent plaque.
Water Discourages Bad Breath
Morning breath and general bad breath is often caused by a dry mouth. Drink water throughout the day, and you will promote saliva production, which helps discourage the unwelcome stinky bacteria working in the mouth.
How to Start a Healthy Water Habit
Make it easy for yourself and your kids to drink plenty of water. Keep a jar or bottle of water on your desk and by your bed. When it’s cold out and you need a hot “pick-me-up,” switch to unsweetened herbal tea to stay hydrated. Treat yourself and your kids to a special water glass so you can appreciate your water drinking experience all the better.
As always, your healthy water habit isn’t a “Get Out of Brushing Free” card. You still need to brush and floss to keep your mouth and teeth healthy, and come and see Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff for regular recare exams.