5 Facts About Dehydration and Tooth-Friendly Summer Beverages

5 Facts About Dehydration and Tooth-Friendly Summer Beverages
Posted on 07/19/2018

Kids and adults develop intense summer thirst while engaging in yard work, weekend hikes, and team sports. Keep yourself and your kids hydrated this summer with healthy, tooth-enhancing drinks. Here's what you should know about dehydration and healthy drinks.

1. Dehydration Takes a Toll on Teeth

Did you know you can harm your teeth by not drinking enough water? Chronic dehydration can lead to white spots on the teeth, cavities, and gum disease. Dental problems occur with dehydration because your mouth doesn't have enough saliva.

Saliva lubricates the throat and bathes debris from teeth. Saliva also acts as a neutralizing agent on acids in the mouth that lead to tooth decay. When you start feeling thirsty, drink water or a refreshing beverage as soon as possible. Avoid thirst to limit your risks of dental issues.

2. Severe Dry Mouth Is More Than a Summer Problem

Excessive mouth dryness can't always be blamed on the weather. In the condition called xerostomia, the saliva-producing glands do not work correctly.

If you have xerostomia, you may experience the following symptoms even when you drink plenty of liquids:

  • Bad breath
  • Chronic oral fungal infections
  • Sore throat
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Burning-mouth syndrome
  • Difficulty tasting foods
  • Problems with denture wear

Consult your dentist if you're having any of these issues. Xerostomia can be caused by dehydration, but it also may be the result of other stresses on the body.

Causes of xerostomia include:

  • Stress from stage fright
  • Side effect of medication
  • Diabetes
  • Hodgkin's disease
  • Hormonal changes

Smoking and drinking alcohol definitely make xerostomia worse. Cut back on bad oral habits, and chew sugarless gum instead to increase your saliva production.

3. Sugary and Acidic Drinks Are Enemies of Teeth

As satisfying as an ice-cold soda may seem on a steamy August afternoon, that carbonated beverage is no friend of your teeth. Colas and other soft drinks contain high amounts of cavity-causing sugar, enamel-eroding acids, and tooth-staining caramel coloring.

Over time, sweetened and unsweetened sodas weaken teeth and increase the risk of developing serious dental caries. Fruit punches and packaged fruit drinks mixed with sugar are just as acidic and loaded with sugar as sodas.

Real, unsweetened fruit juice from oranges, cranberries, or apples is a better choice, but authentic fruit juices tend to be on the acidic side, too. Mix fruit juices with water to cut down on the acid content and protect your teeth.

Brewed teas are not as acidic as fruit juice, but black and orange teas can stain teeth over time. Choose green teas instead as they are less likely to stain teeth. Green teas also contain antioxidants that enhance dental wellness.

Iced teas sweetened with sugar are popular in summertime, but you should avoid them to keep teeth healthy and strong. Iced teas have a lower pH than brewed teas, and the extra sugar feeds the bacteria that cause tooth damage.

4. Certain Drinks Can Stain Your Teeth

If a beverage will stain the bottom of a ceramic cup, the beverage will also stain your teeth. For example, red wine is a notorious stainer of teeth.

Other stain-inducing beverages include:

  • Grape juice
  • Hot and iced coffee
  • Beverages colored with red food dyes

If you must drink stain-causing beverages, sip them through a straw to limit contact with the surfaces of your teeth. Rinse teeth well with water after every few sips of coffee, cola, tea, wine, or dyed beverages. To further protect your teeth, wait 30 minutes before brushing your teeth after drinking stain-causing beverages.

5. Hydration Is Better With Dentist-Approved Drinks

Spend the hot summer months being good to your teeth by cooling off with healthy beverages. Plain tap water is a great drink for your teeth since it contains tooth-defending fluoride.

Bottled mineral water is a healthy choice for teeth, especially if it contains ingredients like calcium phosphate — a mineral that helps rebuild enamel. Many purified bottled waters have the fluoride removed. If you quench your thirst with purified bottled water, rinse your mouth with a fluoride-containing mouthwash at least twice a day.

Milk is another healthy drink for teeth since it contains minerals and proteins that block bacteria attachment on teeth. Do your teeth a huge favor and make a smoothie with milk and strawberries, which contain a tooth-whitening enzyme called malic acid.

If you indulge in alcoholic beverages, stick to spirits like vodka. Premium vodkas have a higher pH (less acidic) and don't stain teeth. Vodka may also kill germs that cause your breath to smell bad.

Beer may have a slightly protective action on teeth due to the hops, so a few beers now and then won't harm teeth. However, any type of alcohol can dry the mouth and lead to excess tooth decay over time, so limit your consumption of liquor, beer, and wine to reduce your risk of developing cavities.

Stay on top of your dental hygiene by brushing, flossing, and rinsing at least twice a day this summer. Proper oral care will help keep your teeth in their best shape even if you occasionally choose unhealthy summer drinks over the good ones.

Contact the staff of Treasured Smiles Dentistry to learn more about summer dental health. Schedule an exam and teeth cleaning now and avoid the back-to-school rush in late summer. We happily treat dental patients from throughout the Frankfort, Tinley Park, and New Lenox, Illinois, areas.