February 23, 2017
February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, and the theme this year is “Choose Tap Water for a Sparkling Smile.” National Children’s Dental Health Month is organized by the American Dental Association (ADA), and brings together dental professionals, healthcare providers and educators to promote the benefits of oral health to children. Tooth decay is the most prevalent – and preventable – disease in children, but drinking more tap water can help prevent cavities. Drinking more water has a number of practical benefits which help improve oral health.
Why drink more water?
Water is unlike any other drink, and is by far the healthiest drink available. Our bodies are made of 60% water, and staying hydrated helps your system distribute healthy nutrients, gets rid of waste, gives your skin a healthy glow and keeps your muscles moving. And--drinking water really helps your teeth stay health – especially if it’s fluoridated.
Drinking water with fluoride, is one of the easiest and most beneficial things you can do to help prevent cavities.
Here are 4 reasons why drinking more fluoridated water improves oral health.
1. Strengthens those pearly whites
Drinking water with fluoride, which is “nature’s cavity fighter” is one of the easiest and most beneficial things you can do to help prevent cavities. Fluoride is a mineral and in the right amount, fluoride in drinking water strengthens teeth. You can generally get fluoride in your local tap water. In 2015, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a recommendation for the optimal fluoride level that should be in drinking water to prevent tooth decay. Why there is some controversy about fluoridation, water fluoridation is endorsed by the American Medical Association, the American Dental Association and the CDC, which lists it as one of the top 10 most important public health measures of the 20th century.
Fluoridation is the most cost-effective way to prevent tooth decay and build healthy communities.
Evidence shows that for most cities, every $1 invested in fluoridation saves $38 in costs to treat dental problems.
2. Washes away the bad stuff!
Water is a great mouth cleaner because it washes away leftover food and residue that cavity-causing bacteria love to eat.The cavity-causing bacteria in your mouth love to eat sugar and produce acid that wears away enamel, which is the outer shell of your teeth. It also dilutes the acids produced by the bacteria in your mouth. Drinking juice, soda or sports drinks on the other hand, can leave unwanted sugar behind.
3. Who wants dry mouth?
Did you know that saliva is 99% water? When you are low on saliva, you will most likely experience dry mouth – a condition that makes it hard to swallow and chew because of a lack of saliva. Saliva is your mouth’s first defense against tooth decay. It washes away leftover food, helps you swallow with ease and keeps your teeth strong by washing them with calcium, phosphate and fluoride. When your saliva supply runs low, dry mouth may also put you at risk for tooth decay. By drinking enough water, you help prevent dry mouth and ensure that your saliva is produced at an optimal rate.
4. Guess what: no calories!
Rising consumption in sugary beverages has been a major contributor to the increasing rate of obesity in the United States. In fact, people who consume 1 – 2 sugary beverages per day are 26% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. This can be avoided by substituting colas, sugary juices and sports drinks with a glass of water. Water doesn’t have any calories, and it contains no sugar, which makes it incredibly healthy.
Video: How Fluoride Works to Keep Teeth Healthy
(Courtesy of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Campaign for Dental Health)
Video: Why We're Drinking More Water at UIC College of Dentistry!
More about UIC College of Dentistry
Affordable, Comprehensive Dental Care
University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry is Illinois's largest dental care provider. We have 530+ faculty, students and residents serving over 26 thousand patients annually in our clinics and through community health partnerships. We provide comprehensive dental care at affordable rates, with strength in preventive care for children and adults, and specialty care for even the most complex needs. Our student dental clinics operate on reduced fees and accept Medicaid, along with several other payment methods. We help remove the barriers that limit access to dental care through affordable care, education and outreach.
Learn more about our dental care services
Pediatric & Special Needs Care
Our Pediatric Dentistry specialty dental care practice offers a full spectrum of services for all children at every stage of their lives from infancy through adolescence including those with special and complex oral health needs, and patients with special developmental and behavioral care needs. Our general dentists and Pediatric Dentistry specialists provide comprehensive oral health examinations, teeth cleaning, fluoride treatments, sealants, restorative procedures (fillings, crowns, etc.), extractions and minor surgical procedures, space-maintainers, athletic mouth guard, teeth whitening (for adolescents), interceptive orthodontic when applicable, and urgent care (Trauma, infection, etc.). These services can be completed using inhalation sedation (Nitrous oxide), moderate sedation, and general anesthesia.
Learn more about our Pediatric Dentistry services
Education & Community Health Outreach
We are addressing the need for new generations of dental care providers by training and graduating 225 new dentists each year, most of which go on to practice in the state of IL and Chicago area. Additionally, we educate the public on the importance of good oral health everyday – through the dental care we provide in our clinics – and through our community service-learning which embeds our students in area schools and community health centers as part of their training. We demonstrate practical ways to adopt good oral health habits, and how to avoid risk factors such as high-sugar diets, tobacco, and the connections of oral disease to other conditions such as heart disease and stroke, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes.
Learn more about our Academic Programs
We have 40+ researchers collaborating with clinicians in our own clinics, as well as scientists and practitioners spanning multiple disciplines to generate new scientific knowledge to solve the biggest challenges in oral health across the world. Through basic, translational and community-based discoveries, we want to transform oral health care practice and outcomes for the benefit of our local communities, as well as global society.
Learn more about our Research areas