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How Does Alcohol Impact Your Dental Health?

Published by Daniel Brooks Moore (some content may be aggregated) on

Can what you drink affect your teeth? Even though sugary drinks, acidic sodas, and staining coffee are common adversaries when it comes to your dental health, alcohol is another beverage that can seriously impact your smile. If you drink more than the occasional cocktail, take a look at how alcohol can affect your healthy mouth.

Gum Disease

While mild alcohol consumption isn’t likely to negatively affect your gums, research points to the serious impact heavier drinking can have. In a 2015 article, published in the Journal of Periodontology, researchers found a connection between alcohol dependence and decreased periodontal status.

Another study, published in the journal Microbiome, also found that alcohol can impact overall mouth health. Researchers looked at the bacterial composition of more than 1,000 American adult’s mouths. The study found that alcohol consumption, especially heavy drinking, could influence the mouth’s microbiome. This could negatively impact gum health and play a role in the development of gingivitis.

Dental Decay

Not only can alcohol contribute or speed up gum disease, but it can also lead to dental decay. Like with periodontal disease, alcohol-induced dry mouth can also increase the risks of cavity development. This happens because your mouth won’t have as much saliva, and saliva serves a purpose in your mouth. It washes away invading microorganisms and keeps the good and bad bacteria in check.

Without saliva to bathe your teeth, plaque can build up, bacteria can breed, and the resulting acids can erode your enamel and cause decay. If you regularly mix fruit juices or soda with alcohol, you may add to this issue.

These high-sugar, high-acid beverages can increase plaque buildup and enamel erosion. Combined with a dry mouth and the other effects of alcohol, cocktails or mixed drinks can cause cavities because the bacteria in your mouth feeds off sugary substances. The addition of sugary mix-ins provides the sugar content the bacteria needs. The acidic byproduct wears down your teeth and leaves them vulnerable to decay.

Stained Teeth

What color wine or liquor do you drink? If it’s a dark color, you should know that dark beverages can stain your teeth. Likewise, drinks with high tannin content, such as red wine, can also cause staining. Even though this isn’t a painful medical issue, it can impact your self-esteem or make you want to clench your lips together every time you’re about to smile.

Some alcohol-related stains are temporary, while others are long-term problems. One glass of red wine isn’t likely to ruin your teeth. But it can leave behind a purple or pink hue, especially in small ridges or pits in your teeth. To avoid this issue, either stay away from reds or brush your teeth soon after drinking.

Long-term alcohol consumption may cause a more permanent problem. Over time the stains can bind on to your teeth. With proper brushing it’s possible to manage this issue. If you don’t brush regularly or care for your teeth in other ways (such as swishing with mouthwash or flossing), you may need professional help to whiten your smile or remove the stains.

Like with dental decay, what you mix alcohol with can also affect your pearly white smile. Dark soda, some types of juice, and heavy or colorful syrups (such as grenadine), can also stain your teeth. These add-ins also require immediate dental care to brush or wash the stains away.

Do you have concerns about alcohol use and your dental health? Even though alcohol overuse can lead to gum disease and dental decay, you can reduce the risks and correct existing issues. Contact the office of Michael G. Landy DDS for more information.



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