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How Does Alcohol Affect My Oral Health?

December 13, 2023

Filed under: Uncategorized — ornelasdental @ 11:48 pm
Red wine

Alcoholic beverages may predate civilization, and people have been debating the pros and cons of strong drinks for as long as history can remember. While drinking spirited libations can be a delightful compliment to a meal or a nice way to enjoy a social gathering, excessive and frequent alcohol consumption carries significant health risks and can have devastating long-term consequences. Here are a few common misconceptions about the effects alcohol has on your oral health as well as the truths behind them.

Falsehood the First: Alcoholic Beverages Can Help Hydrate You

People may assume that, since alcoholic beverages are liquids, their water content can help them stay healthy and hydrated. Many people who have applied this same logic to saltwater have died. Even though beer, wine, and liquor have high water contents, alcohol has a dehydrating effect on your body, and you will lose more water than you gain by drinking them. Dehydration inhibits the flow of saliva, which protects your teeth from injury by keeping them moist, lubricated, and mineralized and infection by washing away food debris, harmful substances, and bacteria.

The Second Misconception: Beer Can’t Stain Your Teeth

Alcohol is acidic, and acid exposure is among the worst things for your smile. When they make contact with your teeth, acidic beverages immediately begin to erode their protective enamel layer. While this makes teeth more vulnerable to infection and injury, it also makes it easier for pigments to bind to their surface, causing stains and discoloration. The darker a beer is, the more pigments it contains, making it stain your teeth more easily.

Errors Come in Threes: Fruit Juice Makes an Alcoholic Beverage Healthy for Your Teeth

Fruit juices are rich in vitamins and other nutrients, so adding them to your cocktail must make them better for your teeth, right? Unfortunately, fruit juices are also full of sugars and acids, meaning that they can feed the harmful oral bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease while eroding your enamel. Even a lemon squeeze increases the risk a beverage carries to your oral health.

When you combine the sugar, acid, and pigments found in many cocktails and other drinks, the result is a recipe for dental disaster if you’re not careful. Take care to enjoy your spirits in moderation while practicing excellent oral hygiene. It’s also great to enjoy a glass of water with your drink to prevent hangovers and wash harmful chemicals away from your teeth.

About the Author

Dr. Joe Ornelas earned his dental doctorate at Indiana University School of Dentistry and stays up to date with the field by pursuing continuing education courses on a routine basis. He is proud to hold memberships with the American Dental Association, the Indiana Dental Association, and the Northwest Indiana Dental Society. His office in Crown Point, IN offers preventive, cosmetic, restorative, and emergency dentistry. For more information on protecting your teeth, contact his office online or dial (219) 663-2892.

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