What Every Dental Professional Needs to Know About Winter Dehydration

By Therese Vannier, RDA/OMSA February 15, 2018

Brisk, chilly days can be a welcome change from summer’s sweltering heat and humidity, but you could be missing the signs of winter dehydration because they’re less obvious. Just because you’re not dripping bullets of sweat during the cooler months doesn’t mean you’re staying hydrated.winter dehydration

Turns out that when you’re in a dry environment like an office cubicle, a warm and cozy home, or a heated dental practice, your sweat evaporates instead of sticking to your skin. When that happens, you don’t get that powerful reminder to replenish your fluids.

Know the symptoms of winter dehydration

Studies indicate that even slight dehydration can decrease employee productivity, so staying hydrated is critical for you and your dental team. Winter dehydration is responsible for an array of health concerns and symptoms, including:

  • Thirst
  • Fatigue
  • Decreased alertness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Headaches
  • Dry sticky mouth
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Low blood pressure
  • Decreased urination
  • Dry skin
  • Fever

Feeling like little miss cranky pants? The slightest amount of dehydration can also cause irritability, decrease your energy level, and reduce your ability to think clearly–none of which go over well with your patients. And keep in mind, the effects of dehydration are not gender-specific, according to studies published in the British Journal of Nutrition and the Journal of Nutrition.

Control your climate

The climate in your practice is affected by more than just the thermostat setting. Heat sterilizers that process dental instruments can quickly elevate ambient temperature in the back office, while heat generated by computers can lead to uncomfortably dry conditions in the front office.

Monitor yourself

In order to stay properly hydrated, experts recommend that you drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day, or about 2 liters. You can check your hydration status by monitoring the color of your urine. Pee should be a very pale yellow in individuals who are properly hydrated. Urine that’s dark yellow or tan indicates dehydration.

Increase water intake

Other steps you can take to prevent winter dehydration include avoiding alcohol and beverages that contain caffeine; snacking on plenty of water-rich fruits and veggies such as melon, oranges, lettuce, and cucumber; and consuming juices, soups and broths, which are a great way to keep up your water intake during the winter months.

– You owe it to yourself and your patients to run a healthy, happy practice, and proper hydration is one simple but often overlooked step you can take toward that goal.