It is remarkable the role water plays in our lives when you stop and think about it. Hydrating ourselves has become so habitual it’s second nature to fill a glass of water and chug it down. But do you ever stop and think about the importance water plays in our lives? And as it turns out, more and more people are thinking about the importance of hydration these days, and rightly so since our bodies are made up of 60% water and it is a necessary component to our survival.
In a recent episode of “Man vs Wild” host and survivalist, Bear Grylls mentioned what he called “The Rule of 3s,” which is this: humans can survive three weeks without food, three days without water, three hours without shelter, and three minutes without oxygen.
One of the most famous football players to ever play the game, Tom Brady, claims to drink anywhere from 14 to 37 glasses of water a day! Of course, he is a professional athlete, and this could be highly dangerous for a non-athlete to drink this much, but Brady’s water intake is just another indication of the importance of drinking water.
Despite what we know about the important relationship we, humans, have with H20 there are still those who fail to see the necessity for regular hydration. Even those of us who do drink water every day, we are probably not drinking enough. Part of the problem is most people know water is important, but they don’t really know why. Sure, it hydrates—but what does that even mean? How much water does it take to be hydrated? And is that all water does—are there other benefits?
What role, more specifically than, “important!” does water play in our lives? In particular, what is its effect on our oral health?
Here are just a few of the important things water does when we drink it:
- Creates Saliva. Saliva is mostly water mixed with electrolytes, enzymes, and mucus and it helps breakdown food particles and keeps your mouth healthy. By drinking water, on a regular basis, you are able to maintain the correct amounts of saliva in the mouth. As we get older, however, the amount of saliva in our mouths begins to reduce, which is all the more reason to drink water—even more of it as we get older.
- Regulates Body Temperature. When we get hot, either from weather conditions or physical excursion, our bodies begin to sweat as a method of cooling the body temperature down. The sweat produced is from the water in our bodies, and if we do not replenish that water we become dehydrated. This is why it’s so important to drink plenty of water when you find yourself sweating.
- Helps Protect Your Body. Water actually lubricates your cushions your joints, spinal cord, and body tissues. This, in turn, helps to keep your body young and spry and helps keep you from becoming injured during physical activity.
- Aids in Ridding Your Body of Waste. Our bodies need water in order to sweat, urinate, and have bowel movements. By drinking plenty of water, your kidneys are better able to break down waste so that it can be properly excreted.
- Allows for Maximum Physical Performance. While performing in physical activity, it is common for the body to perspire up to six to ten percent of body weight. Drinking water during these times keeps your body regulated. Water also keeps up your strength and endurance while performing.
Exercising without hydrating can be fatal. Blood pressure can decrease, hyperthermia can set in, and in extreme cases, extreme dehydration can cause seizures.
- Keeps You Regular. A healthy intake of fiber helps prevent constipation, but drinking plenty of water is important as well. Bowel movements need to contain a certain amount of water in order for the movement to work successfully (that is, ridding your body of waste left over from what has been taken in). Without enough H20, constipation can set in.
*(Tip: if you are experiencing constipation, drinking carbonated water can help.)
- Aids in Digestion. Experts have recently confirmed that drinking water before, during, and after a meal will help your body break down food more easily, which helps your body successfully pull out the most nutrients.
- Helps You Lose Weight. Studies show that, particularly for young girls and women, drinking plenty of water helps the body rid itself of extra fat cells. So drinking water while dieting is even more powerful, which is why it’s so important to have a glass of water before, during, and after every meal—even if that meal is a healthy one.
The list of benefits to staying hydrated goes on and on, and as experts pay more attention to the effects of water on our health, even more revelations come to light. Let’s take a closer look at the effects water has on our teeth.
Water and Your Teeth
Drinking water, on a regular basis, actually strengthens your teeth. What’s more, drinking water with fluoride is one of the easiest ways to prevent cavities (but more on fluoride in a bit).
By keeping your mouth hydrated, you are able to strengthen the teeth by keeping them clean and clear from leftover food particles, which can cause decay and disease. Water will also wash away excess sugar left over from meals or drinks. This sugar, when left in the mouth, can combine with other chemicals to create a dangerous acid that eats away at the enamel on your teeth. But a quick glass of water can keep this from happening—remember, water before, during, and after each meal!
The same goes for the gums inside your mouth as well. Food and the chemicals from the food we eat love to attach themselves to our gums. This is why it’s a good idea to swish the water around in your mouth when you drink, especially after meals.
Fluoride: A Dangerous Chemical, or A helpful Agent?
It’s tasteless, odorless, and it prevents tooth decay—it even has whitening agents to help keep your smile nice and bright. So why would anyone want to remove fluoride from water? Well, ever since the mass introduction of fluoride into our pubic water systems back in the 1940s, there just hasn’t been much hubbub about it. Sure, there have been the naysayers since the beginning, but they never got loud enough to cause any real question. But now, in 2020, new findings are being revealed about the effects of fluoride, and the information coming to light may be worth your time.
What really seems to have gotten people to start questioning the benefits of fluoride is the popularity of home water filtration systems. People are becoming much smarter about their health these days, and the foundation for any healthy human being is a pure water source. At the same time we want to keep healthy, we also want to reduce our use of plastics, which has caused many to look elsewhere for freshwater, besides buying plastic bottles every week.
What Studies Show Us About Fluoride
According to the Harvard Public Health Magazine, a study done shows that fluoride does indeed help prevent tooth decay from children; however, there was absolutely no evidence that it had any positive effects on adults. The study also indicated that the research done back when fluoride was first introduced (the 1940s) is quite flawed, which indicates we don’t have clear evidence for the overall effectiveness of this (natural) chemical added to our water.
The Harvard article goes on to question that just because we have superficial evidence of fluoride helping to prevent tooth decay and cavities—for youngsters, at least—why are we drinking it? By ingesting fluoride we are allowing it into our bloodstreams, our brains! We are, and have been for some time, drinking a chemical of which we do not know everything about. Could there be negative side effects we’ve been living with for years?
The Good and the Bad
The truth is we just don’t know enough about the effects of fluoride—which does seem a bit ridiculous, as we have been incorporating it into our diets for decades. But, we can give a quick breakdown of what we do know. Here’s what is good about using fluoride:
- As mentioned above, it has been proven to help prevent tooth decay.
- It protects from cavities.
- Even though we do not know a lot about the effects of fluoride, in the past seventy years of its implementation, it has been endorsed by numerous U.S. Surgeons General, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
- It saves money and trips to the dentist.
- Fluoride, in and of itself, is a natural chemical found in groundwater and the ocean.
Now, here’s the bad:
- Excessive intake can cause Dental Fluorosis. This can visibly show as white spots on the teeth, or in more serious cases, as brown spots that can weaken the teeth.
- Ingesting excess amounts of fluoride can also cause skeletal Fluorosis. This type of fluorosis is actually a bone disease created by an accumulation of fluoride in the bone and is known to be very painful.
- In some cases, taking in excess amounts of fluoride has caused major thyroid problems.
Research on the effects of fluoride seems to be a bit shaky. But even though reports conflict—some say it’s useful for children but of no use for adults, while others say it’s good for all—Carolina’s Dental Choice does have some advice for you:
- Don’t overdo it. If you have fluoride in your water, maybe get toothpaste that doesn’t have it.
- Try incorporating fluoride-free water into your diet as a change and see if you notice any differences.
- Since this is a topic growing in popularity, it’s a good idea to keep up on what research has been, and continues to be, done.
- See your dentist. The most important thing to do is see a professional who can look at your teeth and their reaction with fluoride and then advise on what to do moving forward.
If you have any questions regarding your water intake, or the effects fluoride is having on your oral health, don’t hesitate to contact us at Carolina’s Dental Choice. And in the meantime, keep drinking water!