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Understanding Alcohol and Oral Health

March 28, 2023.Claudia Rojas.0 Likes.0 Comments

Understanding Alcohol and Oral Health

During Alcohol Awareness Month in April, take time to learn how alcohol impacts your mouth, gums, and teeth. Understanding the effects alcohol can have on your oral health is essential, as it can help you make more informed choices when it comes to drinking.


What Is Considered Normal When It Comes to Moderation?

According to the USDA dietary guidelines for Americans1, adults of legal drinking age should limit intake to two drinks or less in a day for men and one drink or less in a day for women. One drink can be defined as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces or a “shot” of 80-proof (40% alcohol content) distilled spirits or liquor like gin, rum, vodka, or whiskey.


Dry Mouth and Gum Disease

Consuming alcohol causes your body to become dehydrated, which can lead to dry mouth. Without enough saliva in your mouth, bacteria are more likely to cling to tooth enamel and create the perfect environment for gum disease and cavities. Gum disease, or periodontitis, is characterized by bleeding gums, plaque, gum recession, infection, and the development of pockets where the gums pull away from the teeth. If not treated, gum disease can contribute to tooth loss.


Sugar and Acid Content

Alcohol contains cavity-causing sugar, much like soda or juice, and is also acidic, as are many of the citrus fruits commonly used to garnish cocktails. Even small amounts of sugar and acid can erode tooth enamel, making you more susceptible to cavities and other oral health conditions.


Healthy Habits

Along with practicing moderation, here are some tips for keeping your smile healthy.

  • Drink plenty of water. Sipping water between alcoholic beverages can help wash away sugar and acid while keeping you hydrated.
  • Maintain oral health habits. Continue to brush your teeth twice per day. To limit the effects of acid on your teeth, try to brush once before bedtime or 30 minutes after you’ve had your last alcoholic beverage. Make sure to floss daily as it helps remove plaque and any acidic buildup left behind.
  • Skip the sugar. Leave out the fruit garnish or ask for a low-sugar substitute juice to reduce the amount of cavity-causing sugar in your drink.
  • Visit your dentist. Make regular trips to the dentist to help reduce tartar buildup.
  • Talk to your dentist. Learn more about the connection between alcohol and your oral health at your next checkup.


1 U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. 9th Edition. December 2020. Available at

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