It is an uncontested fact that water is necessary for our existence.
This transparent, odorless, tasteless, and nearly colorless (in its purest form) chemical substance is everywhere – in our body, our food, and beverages, the products we use, at home, in school, and our surroundings.
We use it for almost everything – for transportation, production, cleaning, construction, agriculture, mining, forestry, fishing, animal, and business.
Water has propelled civilization, flourishing societies around it – from Mesopotamia between Tigris and Euphrates rivers, the ancient society of Egypt depended on the Nile river and the Roman empire on the banks of Tiber river. Water is a molecule composed of one atom of oxygen and two atoms of hydrogen that were bonded by shared electrons. It is the only chemical substance that occurs naturally as a solid, liquid, and gas.
Water is about 71 percent of the Earth’s surface. It is found in seas, oceans, groundwater, glaciers, ice packs, vapor, clouds, precipitation, icebergs, fog, dew, snow, aquifers, and humidity.
The essential nature of water makes it a tactical natural resource worldwide. Access to water has benefitted the global economy through increased trade and food production. However, despite the large quantity of water on the Earth’s surface, water supply, particularly of clean water, is insufficient
Its absence has spurred political disputes globally, even being branded as the “next oil.” The United Nations Development Program considers it a fundamental human right and prerequisite for peace.
But, the absence of water is more detrimental to the living organisms especially the human body. All identified forms of life depend on water for survival. An individual can spend three weeks without food, but only a week without water at most.
Water in our Body
Our body comprises about 60 percent water. Most of our organs are made up of high levels of water – the heart with 73 percent, the lungs with around 83 percent, the skin with 64 percent, the muscles and kidney with 79 percent, and the bones with 31 percent.
Children have more water in their body than adults. As we age, the water in our body decreases. Also, women and people with more fatty tissue have lesser water in their body than others.
The amount required by our bodies differs, depending on our amount of activity, the temperature, and needs. But, generally, the United States National Research Council recommend and an average of 3.7 liters of water intake for men and 2.7 liters of water intake for women, including water in food sources.
Why does our body need water?
Water is a building material of cells, allowing them to grow, reproduce, and survive. It also regulates the body’s internal temperature through sweating and respiration and flushes body waste via urine.
Water keeps the mucous membranes moist, lubricates our joints, acts as a shock absorber for our brain and the spinal cord and helps deliver oxygen all over the body. The brain also needs it in manufacturing hormones and neurotransmitters.
Water is crucial to the body that a shortage of it in our system can cause health issues and even death. Throughout the day, we lose water through physical activities, heat, humidity, by breathing, sweating, urinating, and defecating. Lost water must be replenished to maintain a safe level of water in the body.
Also, diarrhea, vomiting, fever, excessive sweating, and increased urination usually cause dehydration as more fluids are lost.
What is dehydration?
When more water and fluids go out of the body than what goes in, dehydration occurs which can then disrupt the metabolic processes of the body and lead to complications like heat injury, urinary and kidney issues, seizures, and low blood volume shock or hypovolemic shock.
How does dehydration affect our oral health?
Dehydration can also take a toll on our oral health as the deficit of water in our body leads to loss of moisture in our mouth and tongue. People who are dehydrated suffers from a dry mouth and tongue due to inadequately produced saliva.
What is Dry Mouth?
Dry mouth can cause discomfort, bad breath, and tooth decay because of the increased bacteria inside the mouth.
Saliva is essential to our mouth for cleansing and moistening. The enzymes in our saliva aid in the process of digestion.
Also known as xerostomia, dry mouth is detected by its symptoms which include:
- recurrent thirst
- dry tongue
- a sticky and dry sensation in the mouth
- mouth sores
- split skin at the mouth’s corners
- cracked lips
- a dry feeling in the throat.
Dry mouth increases the likelihood of gingivitis, tooth decay, mouth infection such as thrush, difficulty in swallowing, speaking, and wearing of dentures.
How to prevent dry mouth?
But, dry mouth is not difficult to treat. Avoid beverages that are alcoholic, acidic, and contain caffeine and dry and salty foods and smoking. You can also stimulate saliva production by chewing on sugarless gum.
Observe proper oral hygiene to decrease the risks posed by xerostomia and do not forget to visit your dentist at least biannually to check on the condition of your mouth and teeth.
And most importantly, make it a habit to drink plenty of water to keep your mouth moist and for the overall well-being of your body. Do not let your body get dehydrated. Instead, make sure to take fluids after tiring activities or when sick.
Drinking water every day is what really keeps the doctors away.