Is Alcohol bad for your teeth and why?
Is Alcohol bad for teeth and why?
My practice is almost opposite Rail Way Arms in Bushey and I have noticed an increase of activity in the bear garden since the sun has come out. I think to myself: one beer, two beers and three…cavities, gum disease and alcoholic liver.
What does alcohol do to your body?
When alcohol is consumed, the alcohol level in the blood increases and produces the intoxication effect. The body then begins "detoxifying" or metabolizing the alcohol. Although pure alcohol won't damage your teeth, the sugar content in most alcoholic drinks, including beer, can really damage your enamel. Some beverages, such as sweet wines or mixed drinks involving sodas or citrus juices, can be even worse, adding a high acidity to the equation.
Excessive consumption of alcohol has been linked to an increased risk of developing mouth cancer. According to Cancer Research UK, 75-80% of mouth cancer patients say they frequently drink alcohol.
Also people who drink excessively, are at great risk of gum disease for the following reasons:
- Alcohol causes irritation to the gum tissue.
- Those individuals who are involved in substance abuse tend to have poor dental hygiene habits. This makes them far more prone to such problems.
- Alcoholics tend to eat poorly, and this leads to nutritional deficiencies which opens the door for all types of disease to arise. These deficiencies in diet can also lower the effectiveness of the immune system and increase the likelihood of developing gum disease.
- Those who abuse alcohol will often ignore the early symptoms of gum disease. This means that an easily treatable case of gingivitis will progress to a more serious condition that involves permanent damage to the teeth and gums.
Alcohol can also erode the enamel on the outside of your teeth, leading to decay. If this happens, you may need to go to the dentist for a filling.
Alcohol dehydrates, and when you're dehydrated you don't have a lot of saliva in your mouth. Inside saliva there are anti-bacterial agents which buffer acid, but when people are dehydrated these agents disappear, and so get more decay and erosion.
It's even worse news if you're a binge drinker. If you vomit after drinking alcohol, you're going to have problems with acid reflux. The affects are a bit like that of a bulimic patient, where you have teeth being eroded because of the acid coming out of your mouth.
So, what's the solution?
Since it would be a damper to eliminate tasty beverages and fun Friday nights from your life just to avoid a couple extra cavities, there are a few things you can do to help lessen the partying damage to your teeth. First and foremost, as part of your individual dental plan it is important to brush and floss your teeth before going to bed. Furthermore, chewing sugar free gum between drinks or on the way home, as well as swishing some water around your mouth, will help increase saliva flow, rinse away sugars, and decrease the latent acid content of your mouth, further decreasing the total damage done to your teeth. Use a straw if you're having mixer drinks, soft drink, sport drinks or juices. Don't brush your teeth straight away after drinking - it's the worst time, you're going to be brushing away the enamel. Wait 60 minutes because your enamel's been softened by the acid you've been given, and you don't want to make it worse. Instead use a mouth rinse like Sensodyne Pronamel to reverse or neutralise the acid erosion Don’t get a Malibu and Coke. This is the worst drink for your teeth — it has a pH of 2.5 and is loaded with sugar. Cider and wine have an approximate pH of 3. Be wary of sweeter wines — they are semi-acidic but also have a high sugar content. Avoid sparkling beverages, which have a lower pH. For instance, most lagers are bubbly. Fruit juice has a pH of 4 and is a wiser mixer than soda or lemonade.
When it comes to drinking, Moderation is the word.
To have a further discussion about your oral health and hygiene please call us on 01923 254979.
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