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23 Oct 2020

Too much, too little, just right

Too much, too little, just right
Water is essential for life. It makes up more than 50% of the human body and ensures that a significant number of bodily functions happen effectively. Humans can generally survive up to three weeks without food, but only 3-4 days without water.

The amount of water we need depends on various factors, including age, climate, physical activity and diet. According to the Association British Dietetic Association, the recommended amount for those over the age of 14 years is 1,600ml for women and 2,000ml for men.[i] Approximately 70-80% of our water intake comes from drinks (including beverages other than water), while the remaining percentage comes from the food that we eat.


A job to do


Water has many roles and responsibilities in the human body. These include regulating body temperature; acting as a shock absorber for the brain and spinal cord; converting food into nutrients the body needs; helping to transport oxygen around the body; lubricating joints, flushing out waste products; aiding digestion; and enabling cell growth, reproduction and survival.[ii]  


In addition to supporting these functions, water is also associated with an array of other benefits. These include weight loss, increased energy, smoother/healthier skin and better quality sleep.


Too much


It may seem counter-productive, but there is such a thing as too much water. Overhydration, or water intoxication, can happen in two ways – excessive water intake and water retention. If you have seen fad challenges like drinking a gallon of water a day, you may be aware of some of the side-effects of the former. Those believed to be most at risk of overhydration are athletes, endurance runners or cyclists, rugby players, rowers and members of the military, although slower and novice runners/cyclists may also be at risk because they use the water they consume slower. Hyponatraemia develops following excessive water consumption during a prolonged period of exercise. Education and careful water calculations are therefore necessary to protect people participating in endurance exercise.[iii]


With regards to water retention, or oedema, this can be a symptom of various underlying health conditions such as kidney disease, heart failure, chronic lung disease, thyroid disease or liver disease. In some cases, medications can cause fluid retention, such as corticosteroids or medicine taken for high blood pressure.[iv]


Symptoms of overhydration include:


  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Disorientation
  • Muscle weakness, cramps or spasms
  • Unconsciousness
  • Seizures


As you can see, many of these are very similar to that of dehydration, making diagnosis more difficult.


Too little


This is partly because dehydration is far more common among the general population. As many as 62% of Brits have admitted to not drinking enough water, usually because they dislike the taste.[v]


Dehydration has been linked to reduced performance during exercise or physical activities, as well as slow gastrointestinal function often resulting in constipation.[vi] In addition, dehydration reduces blood volume and therefore causes the heart rate to increase as it attempts to compensate.[vii] That said, the body seems to recover fairly quickly, with isometric strength and endurance unaffected 3.5 hours after dehydration occurs.[viii]


On a psychological level, dehydration has been linked to a lower mood, decreased ability to concentration and an increase in the perceived difficulty of tasks.[ix]


Dental health


Of most interest to you will be the impact of dehydration on the oral health. Of course, all dental professional advocate drinking plenty of water as part of a balanced diet. Amongst its many other responsibilities, water is involved in the production of saliva, which performs many important roles to support eating and swallowing, while protecting the oral cavity from infection or cavities – particularly when the water is fluoridated. Dehydration can cause or exacerbate dry mouth (xerostomia), which in itself can lead to taste disturbance, halitosis, dental decay, gingival disease and further problems when eating, speaking or swallowing.[x] In addition, water helps to regulate pH in the mouth.


Part of your routine preventive care will likely be focused on helping patients to maintain a balanced diet that includes sufficient water to look after both their mouths and their bodies. Of course, this should supplement an effective homecare regimen with correct technique and reliable products. To boost your patients’ daily routines, why not suggest they add a WaterpikÒ Water Flosser, proven to remove up to 99.9 % of plaque from treated areas in just 3 seconds?[xi],[xii] Two brand-new models have just been launched to cater for even more patients’ needs – the countertop WaterpikÒ Ultra Plus Water Flosser and the WaterpikÒ Cordless Select Water Flosser.


A holistic approach


Dentistry today is more holistic than it has ever been. Not only does this help to educate patients about the connections between their oral and general health, but it also enables them to optimise and maintain their wellbeing. Drinking water is a basic but necessary part of all-round health. With a little information and support from you, your patients can enhance their self-care by better regulating their water intake.



For more information on Waterpik® products please visit The WaterpikÒ Ultra Plus Water Flosser and Waterpik® Cordless Select Water Flosser are available online from Superdrug across the UK and Ireland.


To find out more, book a free Waterpik® Professional Lunch and Learn at






[i] British Dietician Association, Food Fact Sheet.,taken%20as%20drinks%20per%20day. [Accessed June 2020]

[ii] NHS. Hydration for health. [Accessed June2020]

[iii] Whitfield AHN. Too much of a good thing? The danger of water intoxication in endurance sports. Br J Gen Pract. 2006 Jul 1; 56(528): 542–545.

[iv] NI Direct. Health and wellbeing. Illnesses a nd conditions. A to Z. Oedema. [Accessed June2020]

[v] Survey of 1,500 Brits during July 2019 commissioned by Robinsons. [Accessed June 2020]

[vi] Popkin BM, D'Anci KE, Rosenberg IH. Water, hydration, and health. Nutr Rev. 2010;68(8):439-458. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2010.00304.x

[vii] The Heart Research Institute. Your health. Lifestyle. Hydration and your heart. [Accessed June 2020]

[viii] Greiwe JS, STaffey KS, Melrose DR. Effects of dehydration on isometric muscular strength anf endurance. Occupational health and Industrial Medicine. 1998;38(5:section 35); 238

[ix] Armstrong LE, Ganio MS, Casa DJ, Lee EC, McDermott BP, Klau JF, Jimenez L, Le Bellego L, Chevillotte E, Lieberman HR. Mild dehydration affects mood in healthy young women. The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 142, Issue 2, February 2012, Pages 382–388,

[x] NHS Inform. Illnesses and conditions. Mouth. Dry mouth. [Accessed June 2020]

[xi] Gorur A, Lyle, DM, Schaudinn C, Costerton JW (2009) Biofilm removal with a dental water jet. Compend Contin Ed Dent. 30(Special Iss 1):1–6.

[xii] Cobb CM, Rodgers RL, Killoy WJ (1988) Ultrastructural examination of human periodontal pockets following the use of an oral irrigation device in vivo. J Periodontol. 59(3):155-163.

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