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Alcohol and Oral Health

April 5, 2021.TruAssure.0 Likes.0 Comments

Alcohol and Oral Health

When we think of the effects of alcohol on our body, we generally think of our liver. But what most don’t realize is that drinking too much alcohol can directly affect our oral health, as well. Take time during Alcohol Awareness Month in April to learn how alcohol interacts with your mouth so you can make healthy, educated choices when drinking. It could save your smile!

Here are some things to keep in mind before your next happy hour:

  • Sugar and acid content: Much like drinking soda or juice, alcohol contains sugar, which is a major risk factor in tooth decay. Alcohol is also acidic, and so are many of the fruit garnishes on cocktails. While this might seem minor, even small amounts of sugar and acid can erode tooth enamel, which makes you more susceptible to cavities and other health conditions, such as gum disease.
  • Dehydration. Dry mouth is the biggest culprit in drinks with a higher alcohol content. Without saliva you’re less likely to wash away bacteria that will cling to your enamel.
  • Staining. Chromogens contribute to the color in many types of drinks, including wine, beer and soda. Beware of heavily colored alcohol that can darken your pearly whites.
  • Other damage. As strong as teeth are, they are not meant to crunch on ice cubes. Chewing ice can lead to cracked or chipped teeth, tooth sensitivity and damage to existing dental work, such as fillings or crowns.

So, how can you maintain a healthy smile while enjoying a few drinks?

  • Moderation is key. Occasional and responsible drinking can be part of a healthy lifestyle, but heavy alcohol consumption is associated with a variety of short-term and long-term problems. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers heavy drinking as consuming 15 or more drinks a week for men and 8 or more drinks a week for women.1
  • Drink plenty of water. Drinking water between alcoholic beverages can help wash away sugar and acid and keep you hydrated.
  • Maintain oral health habits. Brushing twice daily and flossing once a day help remove plaque and prevent discoloration caused by chromogens in alcohol.
  • Visit your dentist. Make regular trips to the dentist (once every six months) to help reduce tartar build-up.

Talk to your dentist to learn more about the connection between alcohol and your oral health.

1 https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/faqs.htm#heavyDrinking

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