The latest weapon in our battle against tooth loss is low tech and, up to now, free from the tap. It could be one of the missing links as to why some people get more decay and/or more tooth wear than others.


Sugars in the things you eat and drink are converted to acid by the bacteria in your mouth. This acid attacks the matrix of the tooth causing it to soften, making it vulnerable to sensitivity, decay and wear.

The acidic environment in your mouth is counteracted (buffered) by bicarbonate found only in the higher flow rates of saliva. To achieve these rates of flow we need to drink at least 1 ½ litres of plain water a day. This is in addition to your usual tea, coffee, cordial, juice or soft drink. Common soft drinks (including diet versions!) are already acidic and also need buffering.

Your teeth will be able to better withstand assaults from sugars and acids if your saliva/buffer defenses are in place

Dreaming not drowning

Saliva flow naturally slows down overnight; this saves you from drowning yourself or soaking the pillow in drool. The best way to restart the salivary flow in the morning is to first prime the pump with a glass of plain water, and then stimulate the salivary glands with some fruit or fruit juice.

Your body will also love you for the extra water, not least the extra exercise from going to the toilet more often.


There are currently at least 5000 prescription drugs that decrease saliva flow, not usually enough for you to notice, but enough to make a big difference in the ability of your mouth to deal with acid attacks

Sports dehydration

Your athletic performance is impeded if you are dehydrated. Thirst means your body is already crying out for water – try proper hydration before your sport. 1 litre 1 hour prior to the game has been proven to give better performance than drinking sports drinks throughout. Those of you performing at the “elite” level probably need both but the rest of us at the “making an effort” level have no need for electrolyte/sugar replacements.