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Dehydration and Your Healthy Mouth

Can dehydration impact your mouth’s health? From warm weather workouts to salty meals, dehydration sets in when your body loses more fluids than you replace. Take a look at the oral issues dehydration can cause and what you can do to prevent and combat them.

Dry Mouth

Dry mouth is a red flag dehydration symptom. Even though it may seem like it’s only a physical sign, it can also affect your oral health. Without adequate hydration, your body can’t make the saliva your mouth needs to bathe your teeth and gums. Not only is a dry, dehydrated mouth uncomfortable, it can also cause:

  • Dental decay. Saliva helps to wash away decay-causing bacteria. A dry mouth allows for microbial invasion. The result is an increased risk for cavities.
  • Gum disease. The lack of saliva and bacterial overgrowth can also contribute to gum disease. If left untreated, this can eventually lead to serious infection or tooth loss.
  • Fungal infections. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, dry mouth can also lead to oral fungal infections.

While there are many different potential culprits behind dry mouth (such as medication use), dehydration is a preventable cause. Drink plenty of water during outdoor activities — especially those that involve physical exertion. Thirst and dry mouth are late symptoms of dehydration. If you experience these signs, stop what you’re doing, sit down, and hydrate yourself immediately.

Bad Breath

Leftover food odors aren’t the only causes of bad breath. Dehydration, and the resulting decrease in saliva, can also result in this condition. Why does dehydration sometimes cause your breath to smell? The primary reasons include:

  • An overgrowth of bacteria. Again, dehydration can result in bacterial overgrowth in your mouth. The byproducts of the bacteria are not-so-sweet smelling gases. These gases result in bad breath.
  • Dental debris. Without saliva to wash away food and other debris, your mouth can start to smell. While a swish with water can help to remove the debris, it won’t solve your dehydration problem. Hydrate yourself to increase saliva production and naturally remove debris.
  • Dental decay and infection. The decay dehydration can cause won’t only result in cavities. Infected areas of the mouth can start to smell. Along with hydrating well, you’ll also need a dentist to help you clear the infection. In some cases, antibiotics are necessary for treatment.

If you rehydrate and your breath still smells off, consult your dentist or medical provider. It’s possible you have another, or secondary, issue such as sinusitis or diabetes.

Dental Decay

You already know that dehydration can cause dry mouth — and potentially dental decay. But how else can this serious health issue contribute to cavity creation? Your choice of rehydration beverage can also add to dental decay.

Drinks to avoid for dental reasons include:

  • Sports drinks. Even though these are often sold as ways to combat dehydration, most sports drinks are packed with cavity-causing sugar. This option bathes your mouth in carbohydrates and feeds oral bacteria. This results in an increased risk for dental decay.
  • Soda. Like sports drinks, soda can also contribute to bacterial overgrowth. Before you opt for the diet version to reduce risks, consider the acid content. Diet sodas are often highly acidic, and acids can eat away enamel and leave your teeth exposed to decay.
  • Fruit juices. If you think fruit juices are healthy, think again. These beverages are also filled with sugar.

Plain water (preferably fluoridated tap water) is the best way to rehydrate and improve your dental health. Not only will water add fluids to your body in a healthy way, the fluoride can protect your teeth and reduce cavity development.

Do you have dental decay? Contact the office of Dr. Jerry F. Maymi & Associates for more information.