Does alcohol affect your teeth? After years of sipping on a glass of red wine here and the latest seasonal beer there, you’ve hardly considered how your nightly wind-downs after work could impact your oral health. While moderate alcohol consumption is a completely normal part of life, excessive consumption can have long-term effects on your entire body. Read on to learn how cracking open too many cold ones can alter the health of your gums, oral tissues, and pearly whites.
Alcoholic beverages get their color from compounds like tannins and chromogens. A rich red wine contains countless tannins that aggressively bind to bacteria found in plaque. While brushing before you drink gets rid of all the bad substances that trap stains, brushing after isn’t a good idea. After you consume acidic beverages, your enamel softens and your teeth can become sensitive, which increases erosion and can leave your mouth exposed to developing oral health problems.
While it may seem ridiculous, the best way to avoid tarnishing the appearance of your pearly whites and minimizing the impact alcohol has on your enamel is to drink through a straw. If you mix liquor with dark sodas or juices, try substituting something less intense in color and rinse your mouth out with water in between drinks. Dark barley and malts found in porters and stouts are even more likely to cause discoloration, so if you’re self-conscious of the color of your teeth, it’s best to avoid those altogether.
Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning that it amps up the amount of urine formed by your kidneys. When you drink, your body loses more water and sodium than it normally does. Even one or two whiskeys on the rocks can heavily impact the amount of water your body produces and cause you to have dry mouth. While experiencing this now and then isn’t a big deal, having dry mouth daily can heavily impact the status of your oral health and cause harmful oral bacteria to accumulate.
Saliva helps rinse away bacteria and food particles that form plaque and tartar. When these harmful substances are allowed to build up in your mouth, they can result in enamel erosion, gum infections, and cavities that increase the chances of you needing dental treatments like root canals and fillings.
Cracks and chips in teeth aren’t just unsightly, they also expose the sensitive and fragile inner portion of your teeth called the chamber to harmful oral bactera. Chewing on ice at the bottom of your alcoholic beverage can break your teeth, causing you to need an unexpected visit with an emergency dentist.
While a couple glasses of wine or beer now and then are completely fine, and a healthy part of your lifestyle, excessive alcohol consumption can have grave impacts on your teeth and gums. To be able to wind-down with a glass of wine at the end of the night without worrying about the status of your oral health, be sure to stay hydrated and visit your dentist for routine preventive care. That way, any small problems can be easily treated before they have a chance to become more severe.
About the Author
Dr. Greg Ritchie has been practicing dentistry for over 18 years. He completed a one-year residency, where he received special training in sedation dentistry, implants, and cosmetic procedures. He focuses on providing his patients with the highest quality of preventive care to take care of the small problems before they ever have a chance to become more severe. For questions or to schedule a routine checkup and cleaning, visit Ritchie Dental Group’s website or call 830-693-8833.