If you’ve ever been excessively thirsty after an intense workout or being super sweaty on a hot day, you’re likely dehydrated. Dehydration occurs when you aren’t drinking enough fluids to replace those you have lost through excretion — sweating or through urine.
And since water makes up more than 60 percent of your body composition, any loss of fluids can affect normal bodily functions.
The Impact of Dehydration
Dehydration can cause some serious problems for the human body. It can lead to headaches and muscle cramps. In addition, dehydration can increase blood pressure and heart rate, which can be dangerous in certain situations. It can also impact your skin quality and digestion.
Fluid loss has many causes and consequences, but does dehydration negatively impact your oral health?
Yes. When you’re dehydrated, your mouth gets dry and it becomes harder for your body to create saliva. This is detrimental for your oral health because saliva plays a critical role in protecting your teeth and gums.
The Importance of Saliva
Saliva is made up of 98 percent water! In addition to water, it contains small amounts of important substances such as mucus, proteins, minerals, electrolytes, antibacterial compounds and enzymes that help to break down food as you eat.
Saliva also helps to lubricate the tissues of your mouth as you chew, swallow and speak.
Saliva can also kill germs and is your body’s first defense against illness-causing pathogens.
Saliva helps protect your mouth by neutralizing acids produced by bacteria and food particles. It also helps remove toxins from your system. Without adequate amounts of saliva, these processes become much more difficult.
So, as you see, saliva is pretty important. Your body makes a lot of it — on average, you produce 2 to 4 pints of saliva each day.
So, if you’re dehydrated, it’s harder for you to produce what your body needs, leaving you at risk of illness and oral health issues.
How Much Water Should You Drink Per Day?
If you want to avoid getting dehydrated, make sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day. Try to consume about 8 glasses of fluid per day at minimum.
We recommend that you consume at least half your body weight in ounces of water per day. So take your weight and divide by two to get your number.
Tips to Get More Water
Some people struggle to get the recommended amount of water each day. Try these tips to pump up your fluid intake:
Get a fun cup or tumbler. Fill it with ice and add some sugar-free flavoring. Add a slice of lemon or lime to make it taste better. You can also infuse your water with cucumber, mint, berries or basil.
Use a straw in your glass. You’ll drink more this way.
Try drinking your water cool (not cold). Cool water, closer to room temperature, actually quenches your thirst better than cold water, but any temperature is OK, as long as you’re drinking!
Always have water close by. Keep a bottle of water next to your bed so you remember to sip before going to sleep. Carry a small bottle of water with you everywhere you go.
Don’t forget to drink water while exercising. Sweating increases your need for fluids.
If you are sick, try to drink extra fluids.
Avoid alcohol, caffeine and sugary drinks when trying to stay hydrated. These beverages can all dehydrate you.
Eat fruits and vegetables. They contain lots of water and fiber.
Are Sports Drinks Good for Hydration?
Sports drinks are not recommended for hydration. The main reason they aren’t good for hydration is they have added sugars and artificial flavors.
They also often contain large amounts of sodium, which can raise your blood pressure. And they often contain a large amount of citric acid, which can damage the enamel on your teeth
Instead, stick to plain old H2O.
What About Alcoholic Beverages?
Alcoholic beverages do contain water, but they are also diuretics, which means they cause you to lose water through urination. This is why people who drink too much alcohol may still feel thirsty after several drinks – they’re not getting enough liquid to replace the lost water.
In fact, drinking one alcoholic beverage can reduce your total daily water intake by as much as one-third.
This is why we don’t recommend drinking any alcohol unless you are well-hydrated. If you’re going to drink, we recommend that you have at least one glass of water to match each alcoholic beverage you have.
What If You Have Chronic Dry Mouth?
Chronic dry mouth is a condition in which there’s no natural lubrication in your mouth. In most cases, chronic dry mouth occurs due to medications, such as antihistamines or antidepressants.
It can also be caused by Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disease that affects the salivary glands.
You should consult your doctor if you think you might have chronic dry mouth.
You can use saliva substitutes to help combat dry mouth.
Saliva substitutes come in many different forms, including flavored and unflavored.
Some are made from xylitol, which helps prevent tooth decay. Others are made from sorbitol, which has been shown to relieve symptoms of dry mouth.
Concerned about dry mouth? Call us now to schedule a consultation.