We have all heard the benefits of staying hydrated. From improving athletic performance to curing headaches; aiding weight-loss to clearing skin – water seems to be a super-charged cure-all available on tap. Literally. But did you know that the benefits of drinking water extend to your oral health? In fact, your hydration is vital to the condition of your smile. Here’s why:
Throughout the day your teeth will constantly shift between undergoing processes of demineralisation and remineralisation. (What a mouthful!) What this means is that as the conditions of our mouth become more acidic (caused by eating, drinking, and bacteria) our teeth lose mineral. On the other end, when the conditions of our mouth become more alkaline (occurs when there is a greater presence of saliva) our teeth begin to gain back those lost minerals.
We can’t stop eating and drinking, and bacteria will always be present in our mouths, so how do we stop acidic conditions from occurring? The short answer is we can’t. However, we can mitigate the extent of damage in two key ways: reducing the level of acidity and the duration of acidic conditions. The best way to do this is, you guessed it, drinking lots of water!
Water is a neutral substance. It will dilute the acids being introduced and formed in your mouth, impairing the amount of erosion (and demineralisation) the acids cause. Water is also processed by the body and used as a key ingredient in saliva, which is alkaline and necessary in the remineralisation of your teeth! So water protects our oral health in two ways: reducing the amount of demineralisation occurring by diluting acids, and increasing the amount of remineralisation occurring by increasing saliva flow and function.
Drinking water during and after eating is incredibly effective in helping protect your teeth. It is also important that you go to bed well hydrated, as your saliva production drops while you sleep. Unfortunately water is not going to protect your teeth all on its own. Bacteria are constantly being introduced and multiplying in your mouth. (Yuck!) These bacteria produce acid as part of their living functions, so keeping on top of your bacteria levels is just as vital as staying hydrated. Brushing twice a day and flossing at least once a day will help keep the bacteria presence down, just make sure to wait until around 40 minutes after eating before you clean your teeth.