Water has many critical functions in the body. Hydration aids in digestion, circulation, absorption, and the transportation of nutrients. It’s also vital for the creation of saliva and the maintenance of healthy teeth and gums. The adequate daily fluid intake for men is approximately 15.5 cups of fluids a day, according to the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, while the recommended amount for women is 11.5 cups. Let’s look at some of the ways staying hydrated is beneficial for your oral health.
Strengthens Your Teeth
The link between fluoride and teeth was found in the late 1800s. However, it wasn’t until 1945 that the first U.S. city received a fluoridated public water supply. Today, more than 79.6 percent of people in the U.S. are served by community water supplies containing the optimal level of fluoride for warding off tooth decay. Water is known as a “natural cavity fighter” and helps strengthen teeth to keep your smile strong and healthy.
Washes Away Debris
Water is effective at cleaning the mouth and rinsing away leftover debris from your last meal. Getting rid of these particles is important for your dental health as cavity-causing bacteria in the mouth feed on sugars and produce acids that wear away at the teeth. Drinking water also dilutes these acids, making them less effective. Remember that it isn’t just sugary foods that can contribute to cavities. Soda, sports drinks, and even juice can leave behind harmful sugars in the mouth.
Prevent Dry Mouth
Dry mouth occurs when the salivary glands in the mouth do not make enough moisture to keep the mouth sufficiently moist. This common condition can have many causes, such as the use of certain medications. Dry mouth can also result from radiation therapy for cancer or as a natural side effect of aging. When the mouth is dry due to a lack of saliva, you are at a higher risk of tooth decay as there is not enough moisture in the mouth to minimize the effects of harmful bacteria.
Fights Against Bad Breath
If you experience bad breath in the morning or throughout the day, drinking more water may help. Bad breath is caused by odor-producing bacteria that grow in the mouth. Regular brushing and flossing can help remove the bacteria that accumulates on the food particles left in the mouth and on our teeth. Drinking water also helps to rinse away the sulfur compounds released by these bacteria which make your breath smell.
If you haven’t already, consider increasing the amount of water that you and your family drink each day. Drinking water is an excellent habit to start at an early age for both oral and overall good health. Getting children to drink enough water for better hydration can be challenging, but there are ways to make drinking water more fun.
Dental Tips to Get Your Child to Keep Drinking More Water:
- Purchase a special cup for your child to drink from and use it only for water. For young toddlers, this may be a sippy cup with a cartoon character. For older children, consider a trendy sports bottle. A new cup or bottle will motivate your child to drink more water.
- Create a water goals chart. Younger children often respond to reward charts when completing tasks like drinking water. Place a sticker on the colorful chart each time that your child finishes a bottle of water. At the end of the week or month, provide a reward for your child’s great effort.
- Be a good role model. Children often mimic the things that they see their parents doing. This means that if your child sees you frequently drinking water, they are more likely to drink water as well. Get excited about reaching water goals and encourage your child to join you.
- Add natural flavoring. Many children do not want to drink water because it tastes like “nothing.” Adding a natural flavoring to the water can help give it a more pleasant flavor that your child may enjoy. Examples of good natural flavorings include lemon, lime, cucumber, strawberry, mint, watermelon, and blackberry.