Teeth dehydration is a real thing and it could lead to tooth decay

Published: Apr. 23, 2018 at 9:40 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 24, 2018 at 8:10 AM CDT
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Teeth dehydration. Ever heard of it? It's a real thing and it's something you might have had, and never known it.

Dehydration to your enamel can cause unsightly spots and blemishes on your teeth that can wreck your smile. 

We spoke with dentist Patrick Ruopp with Ruopp and Ruopp Dentistry in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. 

Ruopp said it is not uncommon and sees this year round and often when people are dealing with allergies and congestion.

"Teeth can get dehydrated," Ruopp said. "There's not any saliva flow and the enamel dries up. Actually, the shade of the teeth can change because of the teeth dehydrating."

This is caused a lot of times from sleeping with your mouth open or when you have congestion and cannot breathe through your nose. You might wake up to an unsightly surprise in the mirror.

"You can get white spots that appear to be decalcification where the enamel is decalcified when it's not actually decalcified so much as it is dehydrated," Ruopp explained.  

And while it might be just dehydration, it also might be worse than that as decalcification, the early form of tooth decay can form overnight and form these spots and blemishes just the same.

"Other white spots is actually when the plaque - which has acid in it - the plaque accumulates and it's not removed by cleaning and it decalcifies the enamel," Ruopp added. "Those are white spots that will not go away when the tooth is hydrated."

A Jackson, Mo. woman knows all too well the worries that come with teeth dehydration. 

"I went to bed and my teeth looked fine," Ashley Irey said. "I got up and went to the bathroom to brush my teeth and when I looked in the mirror, I saw two huge white spots."

Irey was congested the other night but never even thought or heard about teeth becoming dehydrated.

"I was racking my brain what I had done or eaten," Irey added. "Did I change my toothpaste? Which I hadn't but I was just trying to figure out what maybe had caused this."

She even brushed her teeth and the spots remained there. 

"Nothing was getting rid of it," Irey recalled. "I thought I was going to have to go get my teeth whitened to fix it."

In Irey's case, her teeth naturally rehydrated back to her normal pearly whites later that day.

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However, this is not always the case. Ruopp said there's a difference between dehydrated spots and decalcifying spots.

"The enamel is going to be hard if it's just dehydrated. There's not going to be any soft surface on it," Ruopp explained. "If it's decalcified, it will be kind of chalky and might feel kind of soft."

Ruopp stated that a dentist will know whether or not it's more than just dehydrated or not. He said it's important to call your local dentist to get it checked out.

There are ways to prevent this Ruopp also said which include fluoride rinses, nasal strips or taking a decongestant.

If you have any questions or concerns, Ruopp suggests it's a good idea to call your local dentist and set up an appointment.

He also said it's always best to practice good hygiene and to see a dentist every six months for routine checkups.

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