Alcohol and Oral Health

Health tips | 01 Jan 2022

Why is alcohol so bad for your teeth?

Alcoholic drinks including beer, cider and white wine can be very acidic which can cause erosion of the enamel on your teeth which could possibly lead to a lot of pain and sensitivity. Alcoholic spirits such as whiskey and vodka have a very high alcohol content which leads to dry mouth. However, alternative alcoholic drinks such as lagers, ciders and cocktails don’t contain as much alcohol but they do contain a lot more sugar that can contribute to cavities and tooth decay.

Alcohol encourages a lot more bad bacteria to develop in your mouth. This differs from ‘good bacteria’ as the ‘good bacteria; inside our mouth regulates the effects of any bad bacteria by reducing the acidity and pH levels in the mouth. Good bacteria in the mouth also helps with digestion as it starts to break down food as soon as we start eating.

FACT 

Just one pint of larger can contain a quarter of our recommended daily sugar intake. 

FACT

Two large glasses of wine is a quarter of our recommended daily sugar intake.

FACT

Studies have found that those who consume beer produce increased levels of bacteria that are linked to dental decay.

Studies have also found that wine drinkers produce more bacteria responsible for gum disease when compared to non-drinkers. 

Acidity 

Alcohol contains high levels of acids. It is found in beers, spirits and worst of all, wine, which is especially acidic.

The reality is that these acids are terrible for your teeth and when left on the teeth for long periods of time, it leads to erosion of the nemael. The acids eat away at the enamel (the hard outer layer of the teeth) resulting in permanent and irreversible damage to the teeth. 

Acidic elements respond to the bacteria that is already in your mouth by resting lactic acids which contributes to the further destruction of your tooth enamel. 

These acids cling to your teeth and unfortunately, if you do not practice good oral hygiene daily, your teeth are very vulnerable to this damage. 

Staining 

Alcohol drinks that are dark in colour are usually the biggest culprits of teeth staining. These including, red wine, coffee liqueurs and beer. They can all cause long lasting discolouration of your teeth. 

Abstaining from drinking alcohol for a period of time (Dry January for instance) and establishing a great oral hygiene routine will allow you to improve the health and colour of your teeth. If you are worried about any stubborn discolouration or staining you may have, you may benefit from a professional clean and pain-free stain removal treatment at The Neem Tree. 

Dehydration 

Alcohol is a diuretic. This means consuming it encourages increased urination. When you pass more fluids in your body becomes dehydrated. Many often question, what has that got to do with my mouth? Well, this results in a decreased production of saliva and progresses to a condition called dry mouth. This condition increases your risk of dental decay and gum disease. This is because a lack of saliva can cause increased plaque levels, mouth sores and infections.

Sugar Content 

One of the biggest culprits of tooth decay is the continuous intake of sugars. Various forms of alcohol contain sugar, the sweeter the alcohol tastes, the more likely it is to contain higher amounts of sugar.

One of the worst is Prosecco. Sipping on those infamous bubbles means an immense sugar and acid attack on your enamel. 

What is Dry January?

Dry January is the worldwide public health campaign that encourages people all around the world to decide to give their liver a break by committing to abstaining from alcohol for the month of January. 

Dry Jan isn’t just about giving your liver a break, your mouth will be extremely grateful too. January is the month for new beginnings, new challenges and just the start to maybe start living a healthier lifestyle. A drink or two here and there won’t really harm you but, believe it or not, drinking a lot of alcohol can have quite a substantial impact on your oral health. You may be able to turn a blind eye to any alcohol inducing liver issues it causes but the oral effects of drinking too much alcohol will directly affect your mouth. 

Tips on how to reduce the effects of alcohol on the teeth and mouth 

In order to minimalism enamel erosion and tooth decay, the specialists at The Neem Tree recommends the following to ensure your teeth are kept in the best condition possible in 2022:

  • Reduce your consumption of alcohol, soft drinks and high sugar juices
  • Use a straw when drinking anything other than water
  • Sugar Free gum and mints are great for you. They can neutralise plaque acids, increase salivary flow, help remove food debris and strengthen teeth as well as reduce dry mouth.
  • Use a fluoride toothpaste that is designed to fight acid erosion twice a day.

Abstaining from alcohol will help you immensely in improving your oral health immensely but it is important to learn how to find a balance between being able to enjoy a drink or two and having a healthy mouth. That being said, here are some tips on how to do just that. 

  1. Stay Hydrated

    Drinking water after an alcoholic drink helps to rebalance your pH levels in your mouth and will also help to wash away some of the sugar from the drink.
  1. Use Mouthwash

    Mouthwash has similar effects on your mouth as water, it will help wash away the acidic substances that come from alcohol from your mouth and teeth. Mouthwash has an added benefit as it will help protect your teeth from further attack.

    There are some mouthwashes that can coat  your teeth in a protective shield that may aid you in protecting your teeth and gums against sensitive teeth and gum disease. If you want more information about the benefits of your mouthwash it’s important to read the packaging prior to purchasing it. It’ll also help if you ask for recommendations from your dentist.
  2. Try Drink With a Meal

    Drinking at meal times will help to reduce the intensity of the acid that attacks your teeth and weakens its effects.

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Contact us today to find out more about alcohol and oral health by contacting one of our practices in Esher, Surrey or Wandsworth, South West London.