Alcohol & its effect on teeth

Quaffing and boozing have become common in almost all over the world. It does has a deleterious effect on liver but does it effect teeth too? Oh yes!!! it does has a role in effecting oral cavity in wide ways. Let us quickly go through it’s action.

  • Drinks high in alcohol like spirits can dry out mouth. Not only does this problem can cause bad breath, it also boosts chances of cavities. Saliva keeps teeth moist and helps to remove plaque and bacteria from the tooth’s surface. This effect is lost due to alcohol consumption hence providing space for commensals to become pathogens. Moreover, the sugar content in alcohols tremendously increase the risk of cavities and periodontitis because of sugars feeding bacteria.
  • Drying of mouth eventually leads to white tongue which is actually the inflammation of papillae and bacteria & dead cells trapped with them, causing a white film to cover the surface of the tongue. Bad breath along with black hairy tongue may be a sequelae to the condition.
  • Beer is acidic, which means that teeth are more likely to be stained by the dark barley and malts found in darker beers. The colour in beverages comes from chromogens. Chromogens attach to teeth enamel that has been compromised by acid in alcohol & stain teeth.
  • Adding citrus to an alcoholic beverage doesn’t make it healthier for teeth. Even a squeeze of lemon provides enough acid to eat away at tooth enamel.
  • Alcohol abuse is the “second most” common risk factor for oral cancer according to CDC. In addition, individuals who suffer from alcohol dependency tend to have higher plaque levels on their teeth and 3 times as likely to suffer from permanent tooth loss.
  • Recent research shows that alcohol and oral health may have even more far-reaching effects on overall health with periodontitis thought to play a major role in conditions such as premature birth and diabetes.

How can we avoid such deleterious effects?? Well!! here are few tips :

  • You can keep discoloration at bay by munching on food while drinking and then chewing gum once you are done consuming. This will bathe your mouth in saliva & bring your pH back to normal.
  • Alternate drinks with water to rinse teeth of any sugars or citrus, drink through a straw to concentrate the beverage, take extra care to brush and floss your teeth regularly.
  • Have a regular dental checkup in every 6 months to ensure your enamel is intact.
  • There is no such healthy drink but if you choose to imbibe, there are some drinks that are better choice than others, still with moderation. These drinks are:
    • Light beer : high water content and low acidity levels, safer option for teeth. Bonus points if you choose a light colored beer.
    • Gin and tonic : both liquids in this beverage are clear, no risk for teeth staining and contain low acidity levels.
    • Brut champagne : low sugar content, drinks that are drier like this particular type of champagne are less likely to cause problems in our mouth.

References : wcdentalarts.com, deltadentalins.com, covingtondentalcenter.com

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