Hydration is key for a healthy body. Staying hydrated can help patients avoid a host of medical problems, including heat stroke or other conditions that tend to be more prevalent in the hot summer months. But did you know that hydration is also important for your smile? It is vital that patients maintain hydration to keep the body chemistry in balance, and to help avoid problems such as chronic headaches and fatigue. Hydration also helps in regulating body temperature, preventing infections, and ensuring all the organs of the body are functioning at their best. But dehydration also contributes to dry mouth, which in turn can impact oral health.
HOW DOES DEHYDRATION AFFECT ORAL HEALTH?
There are many different symptoms that may indicate dehydration, but one of the more common is dry mouth. Dry mouth means that your salivary glands are unable to produce as much saliva as is needed to flush away bacteria and food particles from the mouth. Without enough saliva, the mouth can become a breeding ground for bacteria, which can lead to periodontal disease and dental decay. In addition, saliva also:
- Helps in strengthening natural tooth enamel by providing phosphate ions, fluoride, and calcium to the teeth
- Maintains fresher breath and keep halitosis (bad breath) from becoming a problem
- Maintains a whiter smile by rinsing away food and beverages that can stain natural tooth enamel
- Fights cavities and periodontal disease by keeping bacteria away from tooth surfaces
WHAT TO DO ABOUT DRY MOUTH
First and foremost, patients should make sure that they’re drinking enough water to keep not only the mouth, but the body properly hydrated. Patients with dry mouth should also enjoy water-dense foods such as fruit, limit their intake of alcohol and salts, and avoid mouth-breathing whenever possible. Chewing gum can also help in stimulating saliva glands to produce saliva, but be sure to choose sugar-free gum as this is healthier for the smile.