Did you know that one of the best things you can do for your child’s health is to encourage them to drink water? Especially during the hot summer months, drinking enough water is important for your child’s overall health, as well as their oral health. This is because the human body is approximately 60% water and needs this water to carry out a range of functions. Even losing as little as 2% of your total body water can cause dehydration symptoms such as decreased physical performance, impaired brain function, and headaches.
For this reason, medical experts recommend that your child should drink a certain amount of water daily. Although the 8×8 rule (drinking eight 8 oz glasses of water daily) works well for adults and children over the age of 9, younger children do not need to drink that much water. Instead it is recommended that your child drink 8 ounces for every year of their age.
While your child can drink other liquids, such as juices, soda, or milk, many dentists and doctors recommend water over anything else. Part of this is because of the fact that other beverages may contain large amounts of sugars, which can increase the risk of childhood obesity and type-2 diabetes. However, another part of this is simply because there are a variety of health benefits to drinking water.
Since we are a dental office, we are going to focus primarily on the oral health benefits of drinking water. These include:
Keeping the Mouth Clean
Water is the only beverage that can actually clean your child’s mouth. Other beverages can leave a film of sugar or residue on the surface of their teeth that can increase the risk of decay. Water, on the other hand, actually washes away food particles and residue from the surface of your child’s teeth. Having your child drink water after a meal is especially beneficial, since it helps to prevent bacteria from feeding on leftover food particles and restores the mouth’s natural pH.
Strengthens the Teeth
Nowadays, most types of drinking water are fluoridated. Fluoride is highly beneficial for your child’s oral health because it helps to strengthen the tooth enamel, which makes your child’s teeth more resistant to decay. In some cases, fluoride can even remineralize damaged enamel to prevent a cavity from forming.
Prevents Dry Mouth
Although most kids do not suffer from dry mouth, there are cases where it can happen. Dry mouth occurs when there is a lack of saliva in the mouth. Since saliva is necessary for keeping the mouth clean and controlling bacteria levels, not having enough saliva increases the risk of developing cavities and gum disease. Drinking enough water ensures that your child will be able to produce enough saliva to keep their mouth healthy.
Tips to Get Your Child to Drink Water
- Carry a water bottle with you wherever you go. You may also want to let your child pick out a special water bottle that they really like so they can get used to carrying water with them as well.
- Make a game out of keeping track of your daily water intake and set goals with your child to drink the appropriate amount of water.
- Encourage your child to take frequent sips of water throughout the day instead of gulping down large amounts all at once. This will prevent them from feeling bloated and is healthier for their body.
- Get your child in the habit of drinking water before and after every meal. This is an easy way to make sure they are drinking enough water and it also helps to clean their mouth after eating.