Those who occasionally imbibe in adult beverages should understand that alcohol does NOT help your teeth, or your breath. Instead of helping your teeth, alcohol does the exact opposite. Keeping a balance of good bacteria and bad bacteria in your mouth is one of the best ways to maintain oral health, and alcohol throws off that all-important balance.
Let’s find out how and why.
Alcohol Causes Dehydration
Alcohol causes issues regardless of whether we are drinking our favorite chardonnay, light beer, or a dirty martini. Be aware also that alcohol can be present in certain mouthwashes and even toothpastes.
A recent study concluded that those who consumed higher levels of alcohol had more bad (negative) bacteria in their mouth than good bacteria. Alcohol dries out our mouth leaving the perfect environment for bad bacteria to thrive.
We need free flowing saliva to keep our mouth and teeth moist. This is important because saliva helps to remove plaque and fight off the negative bacteria. The American Dental Association confirms that drinking alcohol decreases saliva and causes the acid and bad bacteria to cling to our enamel. This in turn may result in tooth decay, increased plaque, bad breath, and gingivitis.
For those not ready to give up their happy hour, you can counteract this by drinking water with and after all alcoholic drinks. This will help to replace the lost saliva. Chewing sugarless gum can also aid in keeping saliva flowing.
Watch For Sugar Content
Another adversary of healthy teeth and gums is sugar. Most all alcoholic drinks contain some amount of sugar, so choose your drinks with that in mind. A dry white wine or a “brut natural” champagne has much less sugar than red wine or a a sweet drink of any kind.
It is no secret that drinking several glasses of red wine will leave you with pink or purple teeth. That’s why so many use a straw when drinking red wine in order to combat this problem. Just as coffee will stain teeth, so will beer and any dark alcoholic concoction.
Look for clear and low sugar options when consuming alcohol. It will result in less stains and less acid to attack your teeth.
General Effects Of Alcohol
It is well known that alcohol causes short and long term effects on all part of our body like the brain, blood sugar, and liver. Moderate alcohol consumption can be part of a healthy lifestyle as long as it doesn’t become excessive.
According to the CDC heavy drinking is the second most common risk factor for oral cancer.
Drink in moderation, be faithful to your daily brushing and flossing regimen, and see your dental professional regularly to maintain healthy teeth and gums.
Contact Dr. J.D. Robinette at (828) 267-0651 if you have any questions about alcohol consumption and your teeth.