Want to Prevent Cavities? Carry a Water Bottle

Here’s how drinking water helps prevent cavities. (Thanks, H2O!)

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You know that carrying a reusable water bottle is good for the planet. It prevents tons of plastic from ending up in landfills, where those bottles may take hundreds of years to decompose. Still, your reusable water bottle can do more than help the environment: It may also help your smile. That’s because regularly drinking water helps prevent cavities.

How Cavities Form

Cavities are holes in the enamel of your teeth. That’s the hard, outer layer that protects the softer tissue inside the teeth. So how do cavities form?

It all starts with plaque, which is a sticky film made of bacteria. Over time, plaque forms on your teeth, especially around the gumline. (That’s what your dental hygienist scrapes off your teeth during your annual teeth cleaning.)

The bacteria in the plaque love to feast on sugar—all types of sugars. That means they thrive on desserts and breads, as well as the natural sugars found in fruit and dairy. When bacteria eat these sugars, they produce acids through a process of fermentation. That acid is very harsh on the tooth enamel, resulting in decay. Then, that decay leads to cavities. Learn more about cavities here.

How Water Helps Prevent Cavities

Here’s why it may be handy to keep a water bottle nearby: Drinking plenty of water throughout the day can help rinse away food particles that stick to teeth. That way, there’s less food for bacteria to feast on.

That’s not the only way that water helps prevent cavities. Extra water in your mouth also helps dilute the acid on your teeth. As a result, the acid that’s already there will be a little less harsh on your enamel.

Finally, the water you drink may be especially helpful if it is fluoridated water. Many cities add fluoride to their water supply due to its cavity-fighting benefits. Basically, fluoride helps strengthen the enamel, so it’s less vulnerable to cavity-causing acids. If you fill up your water bottle from your kitchen tap, there’s a good chance you’ll be getting the benefits of fluoride in your beverage.

Tips for a Healthy Smile

Drinking water with your meals is a great idea. Think of it this way: You can rinse away any leftover crumbs and particles after lunch, so you won’t have tons of food stuck on your teeth all afternoon for bacteria to feast on. Basically, it will help protect your teeth between your morning and evening brushings.

Better yet, keep a water bottle within reach all day. Then, you’ll be able to sip water throughout the day to keep rinsing away food particles and diluting any cavity-causing acids in your mouth. (Bonus: It also helps freshen your breath.) Don’t forget to refill as soon as it’s empty so it’s easy and convenient to keep hydrating.

Is there anything water can’t do? Making the switch to water has numerous benefits for health, and that’s something to smile about.