The Effects of Alcohol Consumption on Your Oral Health

For most people, enjoying an occasional glass of wine or cocktail is nothing to be concerned about. Consuming alcohol wisely and in moderation can be part of a healthy lifestyle, as long as we don’t get carried away. If you are someone who drinks daily or heavily, it’s important to understand the effects of alcohol on your health, and how alcohol consumption can affect your oral health. The good news is that it isn’t necessary to completely give up your favourite alcoholic drink in order to maintain a beautiful and healthy smile.

Read on to learn more about how alcohol can affect your oral health and what you can do to protect your teeth and gums.

How Different Types of Alcohol Affect Oral Health

Red Wine – Red wine is typically highly acidic which can affect tooth enamel. The acids in red wine can cause enamel erosion, making the teeth more vulnerable to cavities and other damage. Red wine can also stain the teeth, often making them appear discoloured and dull.

White Wine – While white wine won’t stain your teeth the way red will, it still contains the same acids that are damaging to tooth enamel. When enamel erodes, it makes the teeth more susceptible to decay and discolouration.

Beer – Similar to wine, beer can discolour teeth making them look yellowish or even brown. These types of stains can worsen over time, especially when beer is consumed regularly. Beer also contains damaging acids that will erode enamel, eventually revealing the dentin underneath causing sensitivity and a higher risk of developing tooth decay.

Coolers and Cocktails – These types of drinks are incredibly popular, especially among young people. Cocktails and coolers can be the most damaging to the teeth as they contain the same acids as the above but are also packed with sugar which can cause rapid tooth decay.

How Alcohol Affects the Teeth

When you consume an alcoholic beverage, the acids, and sugars in the drink weaken tooth enamel over time in much the same way juices and sodas do. While saliva helps to wash away these acids and sugars, alcohol can make the mouth dry and decrease saliva production. This prevents the saliva from being able to effectively clean the mouth, making enamel erosion occur faster.

How Alcohol Affects the Tongue

Alcohol is dehydrating the body, including the mouth. The drying effect of alcohol can cause a white tongue, which occurs when the tissue of the tongue becomes inflamed, trapping bacteria and cells within the surface of the tongue. With a decreased flow of saliva, food debris, and sugars aren’t properly washed away, causing plaque to build up on the teeth.

Alcohol and Gum Disease

Gum disease also referred to as periodontitis is caused by the growth of bacteria within the mouth. The sugars in alcoholic drinks feed this bacteria, which can result in irritation of the gums. This can lead to chronic bad breath, bleeding and swelling of the gums, and other unpleasant symptoms. When left untreated, gum disease can lead to damaged gum tissue and tooth loss.

How to Maintain Good Oral Health

The secret to maintaining good oral health and enjoying the occasional alcoholic beverage is strong oral hygiene practices and moderation. Brushing twice daily, flossing once per day, and seeing your dentist for regular cleanings and checkups is the best way to maintain a beautiful and healthy smile, whether you consume alcohol or not. It is also important to drink extra water following alcohol consumption to offset the dehydrating properties of alcohol.

It is widely understood that what we eat and drink directly impacts our health, and this is especially true for alcohol consumption. It is possible to enjoy a healthy smile and your favourite drinks as long as you take some extra care to care for your teeth and mouth and don’t overdo it.

If you want to learn more about how alcohol affects your teeth and overall health or to book your appointment, contact our Guelph dentist’s office today!