Whether you’re purely a social drinker or like to enjoy your favorite beverage at festive events, it’s important to know how these popular alcoholic drinks can affect you. Everyone knows that adult beverages like wine and beer cause a variety of effects on the body, but their impact on the teeth can be substantial as well.
Regardless of your beverage of choice, these facts that explain how they affect your teeth may alter the way you consume alcoholic beverages. From causing staining and dry mouth to enshrouding your teeth in harmful sugar and acids, alcoholic drinks are an often-overlooked culprit when it comes to tooth damage.
The Top Five Dental Problems Posed By Alcoholic Beverages
With such a wide variety of alcoholic drinks available, it may seem short-sighted to assume all of them are comparably harmful. While some drinks are certainly worse for your teeth than others, all alcoholic beverages have some property that causes harm to the teeth. This doesn’t mean you have to abstain from your favorite drinks, but that a sense of awareness when consuming alcohol will help your teeth last a lot longer. Here are five specific ways that popular alcoholic beverages are known to harm the teeth:
While those who stick to beer may have less cause for concern, drinkers of wine, wine coolers and cocktails are introducing startling amounts of sugar into their mouth and teeth. Many alcoholic cocktails use sodas, juices and mixers are that each have high levels of sugar content. As in the case with foods, sugar may be added to certain drinks for enhanced flavor as well.
Whether it comes from food or drinks, sugar wreaks havoc on your teeth and is the main cause of cavities and other dental ailments. If you’re someone who likes to enjoy mixed drinks while out at bars or restaurants, you can minimize sugar intake by choosing mixers that are lower in sugar, such as club soda or lime.
No matter your preferred adult beverage, acid will inevitably end up on your teeth. Beer is highly acidic, and any sodas or citrus-based juices are loaded with acids that are a significant threat to your dental health.
As one might expect from acid, it destroys the protective enamel of the teeth at a rapid rate. Arguably more destructive than sugar, acid is proven to cause irreversible damage to tooth enamel. To continue drinking your favorite sodas, beers and citrus beverages without excessive harm to your teeth, it is recommended to brush after consuming such drinks.
Since they feature mixtures of liquids with various types of coloring and ingredients that affect the teeth, it’s no surprise that alcoholic beverages are a major cause of staining. While staining is purely aesthetic in nature, the effects of having stained teeth can’t be overstated. Living with a yellow or brownish tint on your white teeth is a tedious psychological burden for those who experience it. This is especially true when you notice your stained teeth in photos, and no amount of brushing or flossing will return them to their former whiteness.
If you’ve acquired stains from drinking soda, wine and sugary alcoholic drinks, it’s important to know that a white smile is still an obtainable goal. Contact Dentistry of Nashville to find out about your options for getting rid of stains and making your smile white again.
4. Dry Mouth
Saliva plays a role in eliminating bacteria and plaque from the surface of the teeth. Alcohol causes dehydration in the body, but also dries out the mouth, thereby preventing saliva from protecting the teeth. Alcohol itself is the cause of dry mouth, so the drinks with the greatest alcohol content will dehydrate you the most. This is easy to tell by taking note of the percentage of alcohol, also expressed as a proof rating, on the side of the bottle.
To minimize damage from dry mouth while consuming alcoholic beverages, it’s recommended that you accompany your alcohol consumption with water during the time you’re drinking. This will help you stay hydrated and will keep the threat of dental problems at bay.
5. Ice Chewing
While beer and wine drinkers will not often have ice served in their beverages, those who order soda or cocktails inevitably will. The majority of doctors agree that chewing on ice can be devastating on the teeth, mainly due to the small microfractures that it creates.
Other doctors have reported that patients have entirely destroyed their crowns or real teeth by chewing on ice. Considering that an icy drink most likely has sugar, acid and other tooth-harming ingredients in it as well, an icy alcoholic beverage could prove to be a full-scale assault on your dental health. Next time you’re served a beverage filled to the brim with ice, think twice before chomping it down and your teeth will thank you.
Tips For Dental Health While Drinking
At celebrations and social events, there may be no suitable substitute for an adult beverage. That said, some choices are infinitely better than others. By making a few adjustments when enjoying alcoholic beverages, you can mitigate most of the oral damage caused by these drinks.
When it comes to dental health and alcohol, the simpler the drink, the better. Cocktails that involve a variety of mixed liqueurs and juices are likely to have more ingredients that cause irreparable damage to your teeth. When available, choosing mixers and liquors that are low in sugar can do a lot to prevent harm to your teeth while consuming alcohol.
Dental Awareness When Drinking
By simply being aware of whether your beverage of choice is damaging to your teeth, you set the tone for better decisions in the future. For example, if it’s common for you to meet friends at a bar and enjoy several fruity Mai Tai drinks over the course of an hour, then simply realizing the sugar and acids that you’re consuming might inspire a better decision on your next visit.
If you remain aware of the sugar you’ve consumed throughout the day, especially in times when you’re celebrating with friends, then it will be easier to maintain a lifestyle that is conducive to excellent dental health.
Dental Care After Drinking
Just because many of the most popular adult beverages have a significant negative impact on the teeth does not mean you have to abstain from them altogether. Much like after a dinner served with sugary desert, remembering to properly brush and floss after consuming alcoholic drinks can minimize the staining and decay done to your mouth, gums and teeth. If you can stay focused enough to brush your teeth after consuming sugary alcoholic beverages, much of the harm of adult beverages can be kept at a manageable level.
While most situations where alcohol is served are party-oriented and dental health may not be the first thing on your mind, these simple tips can keep your teeth strong while celebrating those special moments. Whether enjoying a few craft beers with friends at your local bar or ordering a Bloody Mary or wine with dinner, understanding the effect of alcohol on your dental health is a bold first step in maintaining a fresh, bright smile.
Contact Dentistry of Nashville About Our Teeth Whitening Services
At Dentistry of Nashville, Dr. Elam, Dr. Vaughn and Dr. Fleming can provide you with the expert dental care and advice you need to keep your smile bright and healthy. If you have stains from the regular consumption of soda, coffee, or alcoholic beverages, call or visit us for an exam. We will assess any dental issues you may have, and devise a plan to restore your smile to its optimal form. Call or email the Dentistry of Nashville today to take the next step towards superior dental care.