As the summer season progresses, the temperatures just keep going up and up. While you may be enjoying the sunshine and perfect beach weather, it's important to keep in mind that the higher the temperatures go, the greater your risk is of becoming dehydrated, especially if you're spending a lot of time out in the heat. You probably know that severe dehydration can be dangerous, but you may not realize that even mild dehydration can be damaging to your oral health. Take a look at what you need to know about dehydration and your dental health.
Have you ever woken up in the morning with a stuffed nose, a dry mouth, and a terrible taste in your mouth? You wake up with bad breath when you have a head cold because you end up sleeping with your mouth open since you can't breathe through your nose, and as a result, your mouth dries out. Without enough saliva to wash away bacteria and any food or drink particles that are left in your mouth, the food particles begin to rot, which is what causes the bad breath.
The same thing happens when you're dehydrated. One of the first signs of mild or moderate dehydration is a mouth that's dry and sticky, and when your mouth dries out, bad breath is sure to follow. Drinking enough water to rehydrate your body and get the saliva flowing again will solve your halitosis problem.
At least bad breath isn't a particularly permanent problem. The same can't be said of the other result of a dry mouth due to dehydration: tooth decay. Once your teeth begin to decay, you can't reverse the damage – you'll need fillings or other dental work to fix it.
The same saliva that washes away microscopic bacteria and food particles also neutralizes acids in your mouth. Without saliva, those acids have free reign to eat away at your tooth enamel, causing decay and setting the stage for even more serious dental problems. And what's more, if you're not drinking enough water, there's a good chance that you're also not getting enough fluoride, the mineral that helps to prevent tooth decay. To fight dehydration-related tooth decay, up your water intake, and make sure that you're drinking out of the tap – in most areas, tap water has additional fluoride added. This will help strengthen and protect your teeth.
Dehydration affects all of the tissues in your body. If you're not getting enough water, you may notice that your skin feels drier. Your gum tissue will be drier as well, and this can lead to cracking and bleeding. And without enough saliva to wash out harmful bacteria, it's easy to see how your gums can become infected.
This is how gum disease starts. First you'll develop gingivitis, but if the condition isn't treated and the dehydration continues, it can progress to periodontitis, which can lead to tooth loss. If your mouth is dry and you notice that your gums are red, inflamed, cracked, or if you see blood when you brush, you not only need to increase your water intake, you also need to head to the dentist for gum disease treatment.
Play it safe this summer by drinking lots of water and taking care not to get overheated. Summer is also a great time to see your dentist for a regular checkup.