Role of Drinking Plenty of Water in Protecting the Teeth
- March 15, 2023
- 6 mins read
We all know that getting enough water daily is important for health. Since our bodies are made of 60% water, staying hydrated provides many benefits, such as keeping a normal body temperature, lubricating joints, giving skin a healthy glow, and getting rid of body wastes through urination, sweating, and bowel movements.
Aside from these known benefits, did you know that water also helps protect the teeth? Find out below how.
Ways water protects your teeth
- Helps strengthen your teeth
The water in our surroundings—including those we drink—naturally contains fluoride, a mineral known to help fight cavities. It is for this reason that many towns and cities in the United States regulate fluoride levels in drinking water. Fluoridated water fortifies the teeth by restoring the levels of calcium and phosphorus in the enamel of the teeth. Having strong enamel fights off cavities and tooth decay.
In 2016, studies regarding the benefits of fluoride on the teeth were conducted in Alberta. The city of Calgary has ceased water fluoridation since 2011, so second-grade school children from this city were investigated for dental caries rates and compared to the rates of children of the same age in Edmonton, another Canadian city that has been fluoridating their water since 1967. The research confirmed that fluoride cessation had negative impacts on children’s dental health. American dentists also agree with the benefits of fluoridated water since half of the kids between five and seventeen have never had a cavity in their permanent teeth.
However, this does not apply to bottled or filtered water, where minerals have been significantly removed.
- Keeps your mouth clean
When you eat or drink sugary food or beverage, the leftover sugars on the teeth are transformed by the bacteria naturally present in the mouth into acids (the ones responsible for wearing down the enamel). Drinking water does not just keep your mouth clean by washing away these sugars as well as food debris that can eventually be broken down into sugar. At the same time, it dilutes the acid in the mouth, leaving no room for plaque formation.
- Helps fight dry mouth
Saliva is comprised of 99% water. Therefore, insufficient drinking of water can lead to dry mouth. It is an oral condition where the salivary glands do not produce enough amounts of saliva, often as a result of dehydration.
When you have a dry mouth, bacteria and food particles stick more easily to your teeth, causing several dental problems like plaque development, bad breath, and wearing down of enamel. It can also impact your tongue, making it difficult to taste, chew, and speak.
Drinking water keeps the mouth hydrated and stimulates saliva production to avoid dry mouth.
- Eliminates bad breath
The ones responsible for bad breath are primarily the bacteria and food residue in the mouth. Normally, this can be removed after brushing the teeth, but when you are in a place where brushing the teeth is not possible, drinking water can be helpful. Water can help wash away these bad odor-causing particles to keep your breath smelling fresh. A study conducted by the International Journal of Dental Hygiene has shown that drinking a glass of water helped remove up to 60% of the bad breath-causing substances in the mouth.
How much water should you drink per day?
The recommended daily water intake of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies is 2.7 liters or 11 cups for healthy, adult women and 3.7 liters or 15 cups for healthy, adult men. These amounts account for not just the plain water that you drink, but also the fluid you get from solid foods like fruits and vegetables.
However, people with specific health conditions like heart problems, thyroid diseases, and kidney issues need less amount of water than this. It is the same case for those who take medications that make their body retain water, including opiate pain medications, antidepressants, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Therefore, there is no one-size-fits-all rule for how much water a person should drink. Water intake must be individualized, so check with your doctor to know how much water you should drink.
Other ways to protect your teeth
Protecting your teeth takes more than just drinking water. Below are the things you should do to protect your teeth better.
- Brush teeth twice a day
Teeth should be brushed at least twice a day to keep them clean and presentable. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush, and take about two minutes to wash away food debris and bacteria each time you brush. Dentists also advise brushing your teeth after waking up in the morning, especially before eating. Brushing helps bring down the temperature of the mouth, where bacteria thrive.
In addition, your toothbrush should be replaced every three months or whenever the bristles appear worn out.
- Do not overbrush
As previously said, brushing should be done for about two minutes, and not more. Overbrushing can wear down the enamel, exposing the teeth to the invasion of bacteria to the inner layers of the teeth. This also results in an increased feeling of sensitivity or pain in the teeth.
The right way of brushing is by gently moving the toothbrush back and forth in short motions.
- Floss daily
Apart from brushing, flossing should be included in your daily dental hygiene routine. Brushing alone is not sufficient to preserve your teeth. Flossing helps by removing the debris and plaque left behind by brushing.
Regarding whether you should brush or floss your teeth first, the answer is it does not matter as long as they are both done daily. Most people do flossing after brushing.
- Make healthy food choices
Consuming sugary beverages like soda causes acid formation, which leads to stripping away of enamel and erosion of the inner structure of the teeth. Additionally, soda, just like coffee, can leave stains on the teeth.
Instead of sugary foods or drinks, consume foods that are good for your teeth, including citrus fruits, raw onions, milk, and green leafy vegetables. For more information, read Take Advantage of These Foods Great for Your Teeth.