Whether you drink a lot or a little, knowing how alcohol affects the body is important. We know about the detrimental effect on the liver, for example, but have you ever really thought about how alcohol can affect your teeth? Here’s a rundown on a few of the reasons why you may need to change your drinking habits if you want to keep your teeth healthy.
Drinking Alcohol Can Cause Tooth Decay
Depending on the sort of alcohol you’re drinking, it can contain more sugar than you realize. While spirits generally don’t contain sugar, mixing them with sodas or fruit juices in a cocktail can send the sugar content soaring. And sipping on strong drinks slowly means they stay in the mouth longer, encouraging harmful bacteria to grow.
If you’re worried about cavities and tooth decay, try swapping to drier wines instead of sweet and keep an eye on the sugar content on the label if you’re buying drinks in a store. Drinking water between alcoholic beverages will also help wash away harmful bacteria.
Alcoholic Drinks Can Stain Your Teeth
What other effects does alcohol have on your teeth? You may have noticed your lips becoming discolored after drinking red wine but consumption of dark colored drinks such as wine and dark beer can eventually stain the enamel of your teeth, too, leading to dullness of your smile that’s hard to get rid of. To counter this, remember to also drink water to dilute the effect of the deep colored chromogens and consider using a straw to limit the amount of tooth enamel the alcohol will come into contact with.
At the end of the night, remember to floss and brush your teeth thoroughly. There are many whitening toothpastes available that may help counteract staining from alcohol and you can check with your dentist to find out which ones they recommend.
Alcohol Causes Dry Mouth and Bad Breath
You may not think about the function of your saliva too much, but it’s an important factor in keeping your mouth healthy. Saliva washes away bacteria from inside the mouth and drinking alcohol decreases the amount of saliva you produce. This causes a drier mouth and an increase in bacteria on the surface of your teeth which then increases the likelihood of tooth decay. More bacteria in your mouth also leads to bad breath so do everyone a favor and help your salivary glands out with frequent sips of water and using some sugar-free chewing gum.
What to Do if Alcohol Has Damaged Your Teeth
Drinking alcohol in excess of recommended limits can be extremely damaging to your body and overall health. Please contact your doctor or a local support group if you are having trouble reducing your alcohol intake.
If consumption of high-sugar drinks has left your teeth and gums in a bad condition, or if drinking dark colored beverages has stained your smile, contact your dentist to see how they can help. Discovery Dental in Missoula, MT offers patients a variety of cosmetic and general dental treatments from fillings to teeth whitening to get your smile back in shape.