We frequently hear from healthcare providers and fitness experts that we should drink more water. Water performs many essential functions in the body and helps us stay healthy. Does this also apply to the teeth?
This week’s blog will cover some important oral health benefits that you can receive from drinking more water.
Supporting Salivary Function
Producing a healthy amount of saliva is essential for good oral health. Those who suffer from dry mouth have a drastically increased risk for many dental problems, including cavities, gum disease and ulcers. While saliva is more than just water, it requires water for its production. When your body is dehydrated, you cannot produce an adequate amount of saliva.
Saliva is the body’s best natural defense against bacteria in the mouth. It also helps neutralize acids in the mouth, which fights cavities. Saliva lubricates the inside of the mouth to reduce the chance of biting your lips, cheeks, and tongue during normal speaking and eating. The enzymes in saliva break down molecules in food particles as the first step in the digestive process.
Because of all of these important functions, you should commit to supporting your salivary function by drinking plenty of water.
Moisturizing the Inside of the Mouth
Drinking water also helps you temporarily moisturize the tissues lining the inside of the mouth. If your mouth feels sticky or dry, you should gently swish and swallow some water throughout the day. This simple lubrication can reduce your risk for mouth sores and ulcers. It also prevents problems with the lips, cheeks and tongue sticking to the teeth.
Flushing Away Food Debris
It would be great if everyone could brush and floss after every meal or snack. We know that is usually not the case, and it isn’t the most practical advice. Instead, when you drink plenty of water, you are essentially rinsing your mouth with each swallow. You can add a good swish around the mouth to loosen and dislodge any food debris that collects between or on the teeth.
By drinking more water, you can constantly flush away loose plaque and food particles so that they don’t stay on the teeth and gums, with a risk of causing dental disease.
Maintaining a Neutral pH
The pH inside the human mouth can fluctuate pretty widely. Saliva is slightly alkaline, and it works to raise the pH to healthy levels. The problem is that bacteria in the mouth digest carbohydrates and produce acid. It is this acid that has the potential for breaking down enamel and causing cavities. Anything that causes the mouth to persist in an acidic state makes it easier for bacteria to cause cavities. This includes drinking acidic beverages (like sodas and sports drinks), suffering from GERD or acid reflux, and lacking a healthy amount of saliva.
When you drink water throughout the day, you can help maintain a neutral pH in the mouth and fight the disastrous effects of an acidic environment.
Reducing Cavity Risk
Drinking more water can save you money! When you drink plenty of water, you can reduce your risk for cavities and, thus, your need for expensive dental treatments. Water helps reduce your risk for cavities by performing several of the functions already mentioned. By supporting salivary function, it fights the bacteria in dental plaque. By neutralizing the pH of the mouth, it counteracts the acids those bacteria produce to break down enamel.
One other important way that drinking water reduces your cavity risk is that it replaces other beverages you could drink that increase your risk for cavities. Unless you purchase expensive alkaline beverages, pretty much every other drink option we have is acidic in pH. This includes, sodas, sports drinks, fruit juice, sparkling water, coffee, tea, beer, wine, etc . . . Trade at least one of these drinks for a glass of water each day to protect your teeth and lower your risk for cavities.
More Questions about Drinking Water and Oral Health?
Call Prosper Family Dentistry at 972-347-1145 to schedule a visit with Dr. Jill, Dr. Cara, Dr. Summer or one of our wonderful dental hygienists. We can answer any question you have about saliva, dry mouth, cavity risk, and how drinking water can help you protect your teeth.