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What Does Alcohol Do To Your Teeth?

couple drinking alcohol

You know that too much alcohol can impair your brain functions and harm your liver, but did you know it also can cause damage to your teeth? Heavy drinkers especially are more prone to tooth issues such as higher levels of plaque, gum disease, tooth decay, and mouth sores. Those who drink heavily are also at risk of oral cancer or are three times more likely to experience tooth loss.

But, what about those who drink in moderation? A drink here and there doesn’t do much harm but there are some ways in which alcoholic drinks can cause harm to your teeth. Here are some of the most common and what you can do to prevent the damage.

High Acidity Is Common For Several Drinks

Alcoholic beverages have a higher acidity than most other drinks, which means they can break down your enamel and eat away at your teeth. Once your enamel is weakened, it’s more likely you will get more cavities since your teeth aren’t as strong.

To prevent this, rinse your mouth in between drinks to get rid of the acidity on your teeth. This won’t replace brushing your teeth but it’s enough to reduce the damage done to your enamel in the moment.

Sugar Content Is High For Several Alcoholic Drinks

Bacteria in your mouth produce acids that can cause damage your teeth. Sugar provides them with the fuel they need to live, making it a major factor in tooth decay. Surprisingly, several alcoholic drinks contain sugar in them.

Sweeter wines such as sweet red wine or sherry contain 8 grams of sugar each, making them a hazardous drink for your mouth. Instead, opt for dry champagnes or wines which contain less amounts of sugar. For example, dry white wine contains roughly 3 grams of sugar while dry brut champagne contains 0.5 grams per 5-ounce serving.

By choosing your beverages wisely you can reduce the likelihood of tooth decay and ensure that your celebration doesn’t turn into a problem.

Dehydration Is An Issue

One of the more well known side effects of alcohol is that it can cause dehydration. Dehydration causes a decrease in your mouth’s saliva which leads to dry mouth. This is a big problem for your mouth since saliva washes away bacteria that cling to your enamel. Without it, cavities and bacteria are more likely to remain on your teeth and cause problems.

Thankfully there are a variety of ways to prevent your mouth from becoming dehydrated. This can include chewing sugar-free gum, drinking a glass of water in between drinks, or simply popping a mint to ensure that your mouth is properly hydrated.

Some Drinks Harm Your Gums

Alcohol doesn’t only weaken your teeth, but it also can damage the soft tissue in your mouth. As your gums start to wear down, your chance of gum disease increases. Dehydration plays a part in damaging gums since it reduces that amount of saliva in the mouth. Not to mention that alcohol is acidic and leads to irritation on the gum tissue.

Preventing gum damage is straightforward. Watch your alcoholic intake and for any redness or tenderness on your gums that could spell trouble for your mouth. A visit to the dentist every 6 months and a daily routine of brushing your teeth twice each day and flossing is important to catch any potential gum issues.

Teeth Staining Is A Reality

Heavily colored alcohol such as red wine, sangria, or malts in beer can often lead to stained teeth and dullness. This holds true for those who mix their liquor with dark sodas, with these kinds of drinks usually having a high sugar content which causes additional problems.

The reason why these dark drinks cause stains is due to chromogens. These chromogens attach to your enamel that’s been damaged by acid in the alcohol and cause stains. This in turn leads to noticeably stained teeth after drinking darker colored drinks for some time.

Fortunately, this can be counteracted by drinking clearer alcoholic drinks which contain less chromogens. Drinking water in between drinks is also a good way to rinse away any stain causing chemicals.

How Can I Prevent Dental Damage From Drinking Alcohol?

To help prevent alcohol from harming your mouth, try these tips:

  • Drink water along with your alcoholic beverage. This not only helps increase your saliva but it also helps rinse your teeth to get rid of any sugar or stains.
  • Brush your teeth twice a day and floss daily. This goes without saying, but regularly brushing and flossing help your teeth stay healthy and prevent damage that could arise from consuming too much alcohol.
  • Visit your dentist for a bi-annual teeth cleaning. Flossing and brushing helps keep your teeth clean and healthy, but visiting your dentist every 6 months is essential. This prevents plaque from building up while allowing your dentist to keep an eye on your mouth for any potential problems such as tooth decay.

Cheers For Healthy Teeth and Oral Health

Keeping your teeth healthy and in pristine condition is a priority. By following the tips above you’ll be able to enjoy a drink or two while still keeping your oral health in mind.

Had one too many drinks and your teeth are in need of a cleaning? Let Lakeway Cosmetic Dentistry help! We offer teeth cleanings as well as a variety of other dental services such as full mouth reconstruction, porcelain veneers, and total smile makeovers. Call us today at (512) 402-9399 or by filling out our form to set up your appointment!

Get started on your healthy, beautiful smile today!