The government overhauled its alcohol consumption guidance earlier this year, drastically changing the recommended doses for both men and women.
While this has caused a lot of talk about the effects drinking has had on our health, very few have mentioned the effect that drinking has on our teeth.
Considering that alcohol is consumed orally, we think it’s important to remind people that everything you eat and drink affects your teeth.
The effect of alcoholic beverages on our teeth
Alcohol itself has no effect on our teeth, but no one is drinking pure alcohol. Depending on which alcoholic drink you choose, and what you choose to mix it with, alcoholic beverages can have a significant effect on your oral health.
- Erosion – From wine to cider, beer and mixers, many alcoholic drinks are very acidic. This can cause erosion of the enamel on your teeth. This is further aggravated by the fact that some drinks (like wine or cocktails) are kept in the mouth for longer as drinkers lengthen the experience. That increases the duration our teeth are exposed to the acid and worsens its effects.
- Sugar – Many alcoholic drinks, like ciders and wines, are high in sugar. Add in sweetened canned drinks and mixers and these drinks can get very sweet. Sugar is one of the prime causes of cavities.
- Dry mouth – Drinking to excess can dehydrate us, causing dry mouth. This condition eliminates one of the mouth’s greatest defences: saliva. Without saliva to wash sugar, plaque and bacteria out of our mouth, our teeth are much more vulnerable.
- Staining – Red wine stains everything, including our teeth. Excess consumption causes our teeth to darken not just when we’re drinking it, but after as well.
Avoiding the effects
The best way to avoid the above effects is to watch what you are consuming. Avoiding overly acidic (sour) or sweetened drinks will help you avoid cavities and increase the health of your teeth.
However, there are other steps you can take, including not drinking to excess, and consuming plenty of water when you do choose to drink acidic or sweetened drinks.
For more information about how alcoholic drinks affect your oral health, consult with your dentist.