THE IMPORTANCE OF HYDRATION AND YOUR ORAL HEALTH

Water is the main constituent of the human body, comprising approximately 55% of total body weight.  Adequate hydration is important for proper functioning of the brain, digestive tract, heart, kidneys, muscles and joints, saliva, skin and temperature regulation. A properly hydrated body is more effective in transporting carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and other important nutrients and oxygen to the cells which in turn produce energy for optimal whole body function. Furthermore, hydration facilitates the disposal of the waste products of metabolism and helps to regulate body temperature by redistributing heat from active tissues to the skin, cooling the body through perspiration.

How much water should you drink a day?

The Institute of Medicine, an independent and non-profit scientific organization, states men aged 19 and over should generally take in at least 15 cups a day and women, 11 cups a day. These amounts include the water consumed in food and non-water beverages.

Jodi Stookey, a nutrition epidemiologist and hydration researcher at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute, encourages watching the color of your urine. If the urine is yellow in color, it generally means your cells are shrinking and need more hydration. Proper hydration should result in a very light-colored or even clear urine.

What are signs of dehydration in the mouth?

The mouth is the gateway to the body and is often one of the first places where dehydration symptoms manifest. Paying attention to the signs your body is sending you may be helpful in making small changes (ie, drinking more water, more frequently) that can have big effects.

One of the biggest symptoms of dehydration is xerostomia or dry mouth. The mouth becomes dry when the flow of saliva is reduced. Healthy saliva flow is imperative for good oral health.

Saliva:

  • Helps with the formation of sounds in speech
  • Has anti-fungal properties
  • Helps to destroy viruses
  • Neutralizes the acids produced by plaque
  • Contains phosphorus and calcium. These substances are vital to the ongoing process of remineralization: rebuilding of tooth enamel
  • Moistens food, which enables comfortable swallowing
  • Contains enzymes which begin to break down food for proper digestion
  • Helps with the formation of sounds in speech

Dehydration symptoms in the mouth may include:

  • Dry mouth(xerostomia) and lips
  • Bad breathe (Halitosis)
  • Saliva that feels thick or stringy
  • Rough, dry tongue
  • Gingivitis
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing food
  • Inflammation of the tongue (glossitis)
  • Angular Cheilitis – cracks in corners of mouth
  • Susceptibility to fungal infections in mouth
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Higher rate of tooth decay
  • A prickly, burning sensation in the mouth
  • Difficulty wearing dentures/loose dentures/orthodontic retainers/oral appliances

To derive the various health benefits, including oral health benefits, drink clean water. Further benefits may be seen from drinking clean, alkaline, structured water that has naturally derived minerals. Along with drinking water, eating more organic fruits and vegetables which are high in water content can also assist in staying properly hydrated.


References:

Book: Clinical Practice of Dental Hygienist by Esther M. Wilkins

http://www.europeanhydrationinstitute.org/hydration.html

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/dry-mouth-syndrome

http://www.eufic.org/article/en/artid/water-balance-fluids-hydration

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-truth-about-how-much-water-to-drink_us_56ddd529e4b03a4056796377