Most Americans do not drink enough water. We’re supposed to drink between 3 to 4 liters of water a day – almost a full gallon of pure water, depending on your gender and age. While we may get enough to survive, we do run the risk of being dehydrated – living without enough water in our bodies. Sometimes, we can tell we’re dehydrated by feeling thirsty. But if we don’t drink enough water, our bodies may adapt by no longer telling us we’re thirsty, which means we may drink even less.
Dehydration affects our organs, our blood, our energy levels, and more. But today, we’re going to talk about the way that dehydration affects our oral health, because failing to drink enough water can set us up for both short and long term dental issues.
What Happens When We’re Dehydrated?
Whether you sweat all your fluids out at the gym, forgot to bring water to the beach, or you just don’t drink enough water in your diet, dehydration can have many consequences for your dental and oral health. Most of the issues related to dehydration come from a lack of proper saliva production. Without enough fluids, our mouth will try to save water by making less saliva.
But saliva is critical for many different components of your oral healthcare. Without saliva:
- Your mouth can’t neutralize acids in the foods you eat. This means that acidic foods will start to eat away at enamel and cause tooth decay.
- Your teeth are unable to get the nutrients they need. Saliva is what washes your teeth with nutrients like calcium and fluoride. Without saliva, your teeth will get weaker, and may be more likely to decay or chip.
- The bacteria in your mouth and around your gums is able to grow faster. Saliva is one of your best tools for washing away bacteria. But without enough saliva, your mouth cannot eliminate the bacteria, causing issues like gum disease.
- Similarly, saliva washes your teeth similar to the way someone washes their hands. If food is stuck in your teeth, the saliva is one of the ways that food can get unstuck and wash away. This can lead to additional bacterial buildup.
Poor liquid intake may also have an effect on your gum health, your breath, and even your ability to chew and swallow. It may even affect your taste buds. There are many issues that even temporary dehydration can cause in your mouth, and chronic dehydration may lead to even more serious dental diseases.
Drink Water, See a Dentist
There are so many reasons to drink more water, that your oral health probably isn’t even your #1 motivator. But if you needed yet another reason to make sure you get more liquid in your diet, remember that your oral health depends on it. Also, make sure you see our experienced dentists at Live Oak Dental Group. If you are dehydrated and do have dental health issues related to dehydration, our dentists have treatment options that can help restore your smile and keep your teeth and gums healthy. Call today for your appointment.