We all like a drink at the weekend, or even after work. It’s considered normal now to regularly drink alcohol whenever the notion takes us. Have you ever thought ‘how does alcohol damage teeth?’
Probably not. We’re not surprised! There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a drink every now and then. It all depends on the type of tipple you love…
Why does alcohol damage teeth?
Most alcoholic drinks are extremely acidic. Sparkling beverages are at least as acidic as orange juice. As a rule, dry, sparkling wines are the worst of all alcoholic drinks, as the bubbles in them are caused by carbon dioxide, which is acidic. It’s the same reason that we hear for fizzy drinks being bad for our teeth, sugar and acid.
As you can imagine, cocktails are notorious for acid. Mixtures of alcohols and fruit juices are acid central. So unfortunate considering how delicious they are!
Acid softens enamel, allowing some of its calcium content to leach out, weakening its structure. When enamel is eventually worn away, nerves underneath can be exposed, leading to sensitivity and pain. Surprisingly, the calcium content in beer makes it one of the best things you can drink regarding acidity, along with straight vodka or whiskey. However, diluting your drink with ice or rinsing with water is the best way to go when you’re on a night on the town.
How will darker alcohol damage teeth?
Dark drinks like red wine, beer and liquor mixed with drinks like cola will stain your teeth. Steer clear of cranberry juice or blackcurrant cordial. Coffee-based cocktails are also a problem. These drinks can also stain expensive white fillings and dentures.
Wearing away enamel with acidic and sugary drinks will discolour teeth by exposing the dentine underneath, which is a darker, yellower shade. Brushing your teeth should mostly resolve the issue, however if it doesn’t, there’s always the option of professional whitening. Don’t fret though. Clear alcohols should be fine!
The other negatives.
Bad breath is also a huge side effect of alcohol. Alcohol dehydrates the body, including the mouth, as it is a diuretic (it makes the body pass out more water), resulting in reduced saliva flow. Saliva helps fight bacteria in the mouth so, when it is dry, the micro-organisms flourish, leading to plaque build-up and, inevitably, bad breath.
Plaque, in turn, leads to higher risk of tooth decay, as well as gum disease, where bacteria irritate the gums, leaving them swollen, sore, or infected, resulting in bleeding during brushing.
The risk of developing oral cancer is also higher. Between 75 and 80 per cent of mouth cancer patients say they frequently drink alcohol, according to Cancer Research UK. Staying within your recommended amounts shouldn’t have any effect on you; however, binge drinking regularly will increase the risk rapidly. This is because alcohol can have a direct effect on the cells lining the inside of the mouth, including gums and cheeks.
How does alcohol damage teeth?
As you can see, alcohol is a mouths nightmare, especially for your teeth. We’re not going to tell you to go teetotal or pretend we don’t like a drink too. However, we believe in good oral health and drinking in moderation is one of the best ways to maintain that.
So, we’ll leave you with this. Try to avoid an excessive amount of sugary or fizzy alcoholic drinks. Don’t binge drink too often. Keep up with your oral hygiene and pace your drinks with water.