Drinking water is good for your whole body — your teeth included. We recommend that all of our patients drink about two liters (or eight 8-ounce glasses) of water every day in order to keep their teeth in tip-top shape. So, how does water affect teeth? And why does your dentist recommend the tried-and-true 8×8 rule? It all has to do (as gross as it sounds) with saliva.
Keeping things clean
Tooth decay and periodontal disease occur where there’s a build-up of dangerous bacteria in the mouth. If you don’t manage to remove that bacteria through brushing or flossing, it can eat away at your teeth and gums. While at-home oral care (brushing, mouthwash, flossing, etc.), is the real key to ridding your mouth of that bacteria, your saliva also plays a very important part. Saliva is constantly working to remove bacteria and prevent infection and decay. It’s your mouth’s natural way to clean and protect your teeth.
When you drink water, you supplement your saliva and give your teeth a cleansing “shower” that washes away some of that harmful bacteria. Drinking water throughout the day allows your body to create the necessary amount of saliva so, even when you aren’t actively drinking water, your mouth can still stay as clean as possible. If you don’t have a toothbrush nearby after eating, try taking a few sips of water to remove any leftover food particles. It’s an easy and useful way to inhibit the growth of food-borne bacteria and keep your pearly whites as pearly as possible.
How to start drinking more water
Struggle with remembering to drink water throughout the day? You’re not alone. A large percentage of the population drinks less than the recommended two liters a day. Luckily, drinking water is a habit so once you begin drinking more water, it will become a natural part of your routine. Here are a few ways to get into the habit of drinking water:
- Keep a full (reusable) water bottle near you at all times.
- Take a few sips of water every hour or half-hour (even if you’re not thirsty).
- Try adding a slice of lemon to your water to give it a little taste.
- Eat more vegetables that contain a lot of water like lettuce and cucumbers.
- Download an app that reminds you to drink water.