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2 MIN READ

How Alcohol Affects Your Gums and Teeth

by Williams, Daily & Frazier on Jan 14, 2022 11:09:00 AM

Just about everything you drink besides water poses some sort of dental risk. Juices and sodas are high in sugars which can eat away at the enamel on your teeth. Even milk whose inherent properties will strengthen your teeth also contains lactose, which is sugar, that attracts bacteria and bacteria can destroy your teeth and gums. 

How Alcohol Affects Your Gums and Teeth

Those who drink alcohol heavily are at a much greater risk of developing gum disease, tooth decay, mouth sores, higher levels of plaque, and oral cancer. While not as heavily publicized as tobacco, alcohol abuse is the next most common risk factor for oral cancer.

Let's take a closer look at some of those common issues caused by heavy drinking:

Teeth-Staining

There are two ways in which alcohol can heavily stain one's teeth, leaving that yellowish and sometimes grayish hue.

The first comes from what are called Chromogens. Chromogens are found in all beverages as they are what give liquids their color. But why they are especially dangerous in alcohol is because the acid in alcohol compromises the tooth enamel and does so at the same time as chromogen enters and then attaches to those compromised teeth. The result is that those chromogens go from coloring the liquid to coloring your teeth.

The other way in which alcohol stains one's teeth has to do with the plants that are used to produce them. Beers are made from dark barleys and malts that likewise retain their color. When the acid in alcohol mixes with your teeth, it once again creates those ideal conditions for the other components within the beer to stain your teeth.

Dryness

This one often surprises our patients because beverages are, after all, wet, and we drink them to refresh ourselves. Unfortunately, that's not always the technical, scientific way of things.

The molecular structure of alcohol essentially makes it so that it dries out quickly and those drinks that are high in alcohol tend to dry out one's mouth. You don't want your mouth to be excessively dried out as this creates more hospitable conditions for bacteria and plaque. Instead, you want saliva which will keep your teeth moist and remove those unwanted bacteria.

Damage to Your Teeth

People who drink a lot of alcoholic beverages mixed with ice risk another type of tooth damage: The physical kind. Chewing the ice that commonly comes with mixed drinks wears down the crowns on one's teeth and can cause serious issues over time.

Another common problem with mixed drinks and certain types of beers is that limes and lemons often get added as a garnish. Limes and lemons are okay in very small amounts and when regularly washed down with water, but regularly exposing one's teeth to lemons and limes can be bad for one's overall teeth health. This is because limes and lemons are citrus fruits containing citric acid. That citric acid put straight onto your teeth can and will quickly work to erode the enamel on one's teeth.

Drink in Moderation & Keep Your Teeth Clean

As with most things in life, moderation is key when it comes to drinking. Naturally, not drinking at all is the best way to prevent the risks associated with alcohol -- but there are ways you can keep your teeth and gums safe from the effects if you do choose to imbibe now and again.

First, follow an alcoholic drink with water. Drinking water is the best way to remove the acid and other undesired compounds within alcohol from your teeth and gums. Water will also help to rehydrate your mouth and get your saliva back in and working to keep the bacteria at bay.

You should additionally be following all of your regular good oral care techniques. This includes brushing and flossing twice a day and scheduling twice annual check-up visits with your dentist. Your dentist and dental team are the people best equipped to see how your teeth are doing and make the personalized recommendations you need to enjoy clean, healthy teeth throughout your life.

So, is it time for you to get a check-up? Contact our team today to schedule your next office visit.

Williams, Daily & Frazier Dental is a family and cosmetic dentist located in North Raleigh, NC with a team of dedicated dentists enthusiastic in their commitment to their patients. We offer dental implants, Invisalign teeth straightening, in-office and home teeth whitening options, and Oral-B electric toothbrushes.
Contact Williams, Daily & Frazier at (919) 846-9070 for more information and to schedule an appointment today.

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