Especially in Florida, we hear a lot about how important it is to stay hydrated during those hot summer months. But as the weather (sort of) cools off, many of us let our hydration habits fall to the wayside.
It’s just as important to stay hydrated over the holidays as it is in the summer.
Here are a few hydration considerations to help you enjoy a healthy holiday season!
Why Is Dehydration a Problem for Oral Health?
Even mild dehydration can cause you to produce less saliva than usual. But why is that such a big deal?
Saliva isn’t just water. In fact, we produce several different types of saliva from different glands! There are salivary glands in your cheeks, under your tongue, and along the underside of your jawbone. Each produces a slightly different blend, which may have more proteins, enzymes, or mucous.
These different types of saliva blend in the mouth to coat the tissues and teeth. Together, these different mixtures feed minerals like calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium onto tooth surfaces to strengthen our enamel.
Saliva plays many important roles in keeping your teeth and gums healthy.
- It cleanses food debris and bacteria off of tooth surfaces, helping keep your mouth cleaner.
- It lets the soft tissues of your mouth move smoothly and prevents them from developing sores.
- It provides essential nutrients to your teeth and gums.
- It’s antimicrobial. Did you know your saliva contains a little bit of natural hydrogen peroxide? Along with lactoferrin and lysozomes, saliva kills off excess bacteria and maintains a healthy balance in our mouths.
As you can see, saliva is essential for good oral health. So what’s happening over the holidays that leads to more dry mouth?
Dehydrating Holiday Habits
Many of our favorite holiday treats can lead to dry mouth and dehydration. Here are a few of the most common culprits.
- We tend to drink more alcohol than usual. Alcohol decreases the secretion of saliva. It’s also a diuretic, meaning your body will pass more urine than usual and become dehydrated.
- We tend to eat more sweets. Just like alcohol, sugar can interfere with saliva production. If you have high blood sugar, it also leads to increased urination and dehydration.
- We may crave hot beverages like tea and coffee. There’s a theme developing here. Tea and coffee are both diuretics, too!
- We may not drink as much water as usual. With all those great holiday foods and special drinks around, who would want to stick to plain old water?
What Can You Do to Have a Healthy Holiday Smile?
First and foremost, drink more water! Not only will staying hydrated keep your mouth healthy; it’s also a great way to stave off bad breath and avoid that post-holiday hangover.
As you’re enjoying a great meal with friends and family, try to keep a glass of water close at hand. You can alternate sips or just be sure to chase each glass of wine with a little H2O.
Also be sure to keep up with your home care routine. We all want to relax during the holidays, but many times that can mean slacking on our self-care. Be sure to brush for at least 2 minutes 2 times per day and floss at least once.
To be sure your teeth are in tip top shape for this holiday season, call our dental office in Baldwin Park, FL to schedule an oral health exam and cleaning! Even if we can’t see you until after the holidays, making your appointment now is a great way to start the New Year.
Keep smiling and Happy Holidays, Orlando!