Water isn't only healthy for your body, but it's healthy for your teeth, too. If you drink water throughout the day to improve your oral health, it helps to know both the benefits and drawbacks of the sources of water you drink.
By drinking water after you eat, you help wash away leftover food residue and acids that oral bacteria produce, decreasing your risk for tooth decay. While too much acid can cause bacteria in dental plaque to grow, water dilutes and neutralizes the acids. Water that doesn't have large amounts of dissolved elements like lead and iron in it usually has a neutral pH level of 7.
The pH of your mouth measures the level of acidity. Any value below 7 is acidic, which can be harmful to teeth. The risk of enamel decay increases as the pH drops. However, the more alkaline your mouth - a pH above 7 - the less damage acids can do to your teeth.
Water also fights dry mouth and keeps gums moist. Drinking water is especially important if you don't produce enough saliva to help wash away acids that dissolve the tooth's outer surface. By drinking more water, you help stimulate saliva production.
Saliva plays several essential roles in oral health, including providing teeth with calcium, phosphate, and fluoride - minerals your teeth need to be strong. Shiny spots on your teeth are a sign that the tooth enamel has lost minerals.
Saliva not only remineralizes the surface of your teeth, it also removes bacteria from your mouth that cause gum disease. Low saliva allows bacteria to form plaque. A buildup of plaque can turn into tartar, which paves the way for gum disease to develop.
If you prefer to drink bottled water rather than water from the tap, check the label to see if the water contains fluoride. Not all bottled water contains fluoride since whether to add fluoride is left to the manufacturer.
Fluoride is a mineral that strengthens tooth enamel and protects your teeth against cavities. The mineral can even help repair enamel and the early stages of tooth decay. When you drink fluoridated water, the fluoride enters saliva. As saliva bathes your teeth, they absorb fluoride, which keeps your tooth enamel hard by replenishing calcium and phosphorous.
If the bottled water you drink isn't fluoridated, you can get fluoride through other sources such as fluoride toothpaste, fluoride rinses, or fluoride supplements your dentist prescribes. Your dentist may also apply topical fluoride treatments to areas of tooth erosion and teeth with exposed dentin to make teeth stronger and more resistant to acid exposure and decay.
Drinking water with lemon gives your body important nutrients, including vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. Lemons are packed full of vitamin C and other antioxidants, which may help prevent cavities, periodontal disease, and oral cancer.
But be careful when you drink too much lemon water. Lemons also contain high levels of citric acid. When citric acid bonds with calcium, it forms calcium citrate - an acidic form of calcium. Regularly drinking water with lemon can erode tooth enamel as the result of too much acid washing over your teeth. Weakened tooth enamel increases your risk of cavities and tooth decay.
Along with being at higher risk for cavities, enamel erosion can make your teeth look dull and discolored. When tooth enamel wears thin, you see the underlying dentin, which is yellowish in color.
If drinking lemon water has damaged your teeth, your dentist may recommend tooth bonding to treat mild cases of enamel erosion. The use of dental crowns or porcelain veneers treats tooth discoloration and repairs more serious tooth erosion damage.
To learn more about how to maintain your oral health and keep your teeth looking at their best, call the dental office of Dr. M. Dawn Harvey, DMD, PC, to set up an appointment.