Hydration and Oral Health
Most people know that staying properly hydrated is important for our overall health. Yet, studies have shown that nearly 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated, leading to a myriad of health problems from headaches and irritability, to more severe symptoms like dizziness and rapid heartbeat.
With the rise in summer temperatures, hydration is key to replace the fluids lost in the heat or during activity. But, it’s important to remember that proper hydration should be on the top everyone’s list . . . all year long.
Because our mouth is the window to the rest of our body, it’s no surprise that there’s a link between hydration and our oral health. Here are a few signs that you might be dehydrated and some tips that will keep your mouth . . . and the rest of your body . . . healthy.
- Dry Mouth: One of the first warning signs of dehydration. When you don’t have enough fluid in your body, you cannot produce the saliva you need.
- Thirst: If you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated!
- Bad Breath: The lack of saliva in your mouth doesn’t wash away bacteria, allowing it to grow and cause bad breath.
- Increased Risk for Tooth Decay: A mouth that is not producing saliva becomes an ideal breeding ground for bacteria, which may cause infections that can lead cavities and gingivitis.
- Water is Best: Water is your best option to help stay hydrated and keep your oral health in check. It contains enamel-strengthening fluoride, washes away food particles and bacteria, plus helps in saliva production.
- Don’t Wait Until You Are Thirsty: Numerous studies have offered various recommendations on daily water consumption. But, a good guideline to remember is the 8×8 Rule — eight 8-ounce glasses daily.
- Don’t Forget About the Little Ones: A study from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that more than half of all children and adolescents in the U.S. aren’t getting enough water.
- Watch the Sugary Drinks: Hydration may come from a variety of sports and soft drinks, but they can be loaded with sugar and acid that can harm teeth. Be sure to brush your teeth or rinse with water following consumption.
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