Oral & Vision Health Blog

Are Your Favorite Drinks Messing up Your Teeth and Gums?

This April, during Alcohol Awareness month, is an ideal time to ask the famous question, “How could something so good be so bad?”  I’m sure there are lots of songs out there with these lyrics referring to a rainbow of topics. However, when we are talking oral health, the answer can easily be, “Let me count the ways.” The fact is, a lot of your favorite alcoholic drinks can be bad for your oral health.  Here are some things to keep in mind during your next happy hour:

Alcohol and Your Teeth

Is alcohol bad for your teeth? 

Red Wine –  On a date, red wine is the perfect romantic choice for some. For others, it’s an important part of your “me time” where you sip it slowly, while binge-watching your favorite series on Netflix.IHowever, red wine is not the best choice for your oral health. The ingredients contained in this drink can stain your teeth, while its acidity weakens your teeth’s protective shield (the enamel). And once this is gone, it cannot be replaced. The results? Your teeth are more sensitive to hot and cold, exposed to decay and may crack easily.

White Wine – White wine may seem like it’s a better choice but it’s not. In fact, some sources suggest that this clear beverage is actually worse for your teeth. The level of acidity in it breaks down the enamel, perhaps more than red wine. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, with the tooth’s shield down, it is much easier for the other things you eat to stain your teeth.

Mimosas, Margaritas and other Mixed Drinks – These mixtures also erode your teeth’s natural protection. Additionally, they, like the other beverages, decrease your saliva, which normally helps to get rid of acids and bacteria. This also contributes to bad breath, which can do a number on your social life.

Beer – This may surprise you but beer is the least harmful to your teeth compared to the other beverages. The high amount of water and low amount of acidity that are in a low-carb, light beer make it a teeth-friendly option. However, keep in mind that darker beers can discolor your teeth and drinking beer over a long time, also wears away your enamel.

Alcohol and Your Gums

So far, we have focused on your teeth but drinking alcoholic beverages also negatively affects your gums. Per the American Academy of Periodontology, frequently drinking alcohol can make serious cases of gum disease worse, or increase your risk of getting it. The dangerous domino effect that occurs includes:  

  1. Alcohol lowers the production of saliva, which naturally gets rid of excess acids and bacteria in the mouth.
  2. This drying effect causes a buildup of acids and bacteria in the mouth.
  3. The buildup encourages the creation of plaque.
  4. Plaque, if not removed, can cause inflammation in the gums.

This menacing mixture of effects on your gums and teeth spells big trouble for your overall dental health, your social life and your bank account. The fact is, dental care, without a quality, affordable dental plan, is not cheap. Plus, there is the fact that drinking too much of these tempting beverages worsens or raises the risk for other serious health conditions, like heart disease, stroke and cancers, all of which negatively affects or is affected by oral health.   

In general, it’s good practice to brush and floss at least twice a day. Add to that regular routine cleanings and checkups at your dentist. And if not drinking is not an option, here are some tips that may lessen the negative effects on your teeth:

  • Cut down how often and how much you drink.
  • Drink water between drinks as it washes away excess acids and bacteria.
  • Eat calcium rich foods such as different cheeses for dessert or have while you sip your wine; cheeses is high in calcium may help offset the negative results of acids and bacteria on your teeth.
  • Don’t brush your teeth immediately after drinking alcohol. Wait about half hour before brushing and going to bed.

When you think about it, “How could something that feels so good be so wrong?” is really the type of question you asked in your teens. You’ve been around long enough to know that something that feels great can have serious consequences, such as getting lots of sleep but sleeping through a final exam and a host of other interesting scenarios. But you can’t go wrong with having way too much dental health or overall health.

Related Topics:

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Tips to Make Your Smile is “Selfie” Ready

Becoming a Better You: How to Make Your Smile Social

Five Tips and Tricks to Keep Your Teeth (and Gums) Clear All Year



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