alcohol and teeth

How Does Alcohol Affect Your Teeth?

Sugary sodas and acidic citrus drinks aren’t the only beverages that are bad for your teeth. Because it increases your risk of developing cavities, alcohol can also damage your teeth and cause tooth pain. At Lifetime Family Dental, we want to help you protect your teeth from alcohol and other damaging beverages. In this post, we’re exploring how alcohol affects your teeth. 

Alcohol and Teeth: Four Reasons to Drink in Moderation

To protect your teeth and overall health, it’s best to drink in moderation. The amount of damage to your teeth depends on how much alcohol you drink and how often you drink it. According to the CDC, drinking in moderation is defined as two drinks or less a day for men and one drink a day or less for women. Drinking more alcohol than the CDC recommends leaves your teeth especially vulnerable to the following issues. 

1: Teeth Stains

Not all alcoholic beverages will stain your teeth, but red wine is a common culprit when it comes to stains. Imbibed in excess, red wine can cause your teeth to turn purple, blue, or gray in color. Although tooth discoloration doesn’t affect your oral health, it may cause you to become less confident in your smile. Frequently drinking red wine and other staining beverages also makes teeth whitening treatment less effective. 

You may be able to minimize staining from red wine by brushing your teeth twice a day, using mouthwash, and sipping water whenever you drink red wine. However, you should always wait at least 30 minutes after drinking wine to brush your teeth. Because wine is acidic, brushing your teeth too soon may cause more damage from tooth decay by spreading cavity-causing bacteria to other teeth

2: Acidity

Wine isn’t the only type of alcohol that is acidic. Citrus alcoholic drinks, like margaritas, are also especially acidic. Acidic drinks attack the protective enamel of your teeth and wear it down. The weaker your enamel, the more vulnerable your teeth become to decay and sensitivity. Enamel erosion even allows stains to develop behind your enamel, making them more difficult to remove. 

3: Sugar Content

Sugary drinks are bad for your teeth because the bacteria in your mouth feed on sugar and then produce acids that attack your teeth. Alcoholic beverages with high sugar content put your teeth at greater risk of decay. Beer, wine, and mixed drinks all contain sugar and contribute to tooth decay. Try to stick to low-sugar beverages when drinking alcohol to minimize the damage.  

4: Dry Mouth

One major side effect of frequently drinking alcohol is dehydration, which leads to dry mouth. Your body requires sufficient saliva production to flush away food particles and harmful bacteria from your mouth. More exposure to bacteria means more cavities and more tooth decay. Drinking a glass of water after every alcoholic beverage helps keep your body hydrated and reduces your risk of dry mouth.

Teeth Cleanings in Gilbert, Arizona

Although alcohol and your teeth don’t mix well, that doesn’t mean you need to avoid alcohol altogether. Just remember to drink in moderation, drink plenty of water, and practice good oral hygiene. However, no oral hygiene routine is complete without regular checkups and cleanings from your dentist. At Lifetime Family Dental, we provide gentle cleanings to keep your teeth in beautiful condition. Call 480-558-4331 today to schedule an appointment.

Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (3/22/2022). Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash