While everyone knows that excessive alcohol consumption can be bad for our health, there are specific risks to your oral health. The occasional drink doesn’t pose much of a risk to you either way, but consistent consumption, or overconsumption, can be a problem for your teeth. This is in addition to the well-documented risks to your liver, brain, blood sugar, and other parts of the body. Below we’re going to explore alcohol consumption through the lens of a dentist and what effects it can have on your gums, teeth, and other tissue in the mouth.
How Alcohol Consumption Increases Certain Oral Health Risks
The dangers to our oral health may be one of the least discussed aspects of alcohol consumption. With that in mind, let’s start by revealing that those who consume alcohol regularly also tend to have higher levels of plaque. They also have an increased risk of tooth loss, nearly three times that of non-drinkers. This is just the beginning of the risks posed to your oral health through alcohol consumption. Other potential hazards include:
- Dental Staining – Acids in alcohol soften the enamel on your teeth, making them more vulnerable to staining agents. Soft enamel has a harder time preventing these substances from being absorbed.
- Cavity Risk – Along with a higher risk of staining, softened enamel also makes it more likely you’ll develop cavities as it’s easier for bacteria to erode.
- Dry Mouth – Alcohol also tends to make us develop dry mouth by preventing saliva production. This means your teeth aren’t protected by this important substance and aren’t benefiting from its bacteria and plaque-fighting properties. Drink water regularly when drinking.
- Risk of Damage – In addition to the above risks, many people who drink alcohol chew their ice, which is bad for your teeth. Citrus elements in the beverage further soften the enamel, while the unsteadiness common in an inebriated state can lead to accidents that harm the teeth.
- Vomiting – For those who overindulge regularly, vomiting is common. While rinsing your mouth out after vomiting can easily protect your teeth, inebriated people don’t necessarily practice this efficiently.
Research even backs these statements up, as according to research from the Journal of Clinical Diagnosis and Research, those with alcohol dependence had a higher rate of cavities, periodontal disease, and mucosal lesions. These are the most common oral health risks associated with alcohol consumption. It is worth noting that all forms of alcohol pose this risk, including beers and wines.
How To Protect Your Teeth While Enjoying Alcohol
It’s not realistic to expect that those who enjoy alcohol are going to avoid drinking altogether just for the sake of their teeth. You can protect your teeth from the damage caused by alcohol. Just consider the following on your next night out.
- Brush before you leave, brush when you return, in addition to your normal routine
- Regularly hydrate with water while you’re out drinking; it can also stave off hangovers
- Avoid high acid drinks, such as citrus or fruity drinks
- Don’t overindulge to the point of sickness
These tips will help keep your teeth protected while you’re out enjoying your favorite adult beverage.