alcohol effects on oral health -- blonde woman with her back to the camera holding a glass of red wine

Can Alcohol Affect My Oral Health?

Alcoholic beverages like wine and beer are a normal part of festivities and special events. Whether it’s a New Year’s champagne toast, a wedding anniversary with wine, or a Super Bowl party with beer, there are many people who occasionally indulge in an adult beverage. Regular consumption of alcohol, however, can have detrimental effects on your oral health. The dentists at Mettler and Griego Family Dentistry are here to explain more.

Alcohol’s Effects on Oral Health

While high-risk or heavy drinking will obviously have a profound impact on a person’s overall health, even moderate drinking can have an effect on your oral health. From tooth decay, to stains, to gum disease, here’s a look at some of the ways alcohol consumption can affect your dental health. 

Alcohol and Tooth Decay

Does alcohol damage teeth? Most definitely. Research shows people who are heavy alcohol drinkers have higher amounts of plaque on their teeth and are three times more likely to suffer permanent tooth loss. 

Alcohol dries out your mouth, so it doesn’t produce enough saliva to wash away bacteria and food particles, which leaves your mouth vulnerable to plaque. When plaque grows, it damages your tooth enamel, causing cavities and decay. 

The issues don’t stop there. Some alcoholic beverages like beer and wine have high sugar content. Mixed drinks with fruit juices or sodas also have a lot of sugar. The bacteria that form plaque love to eat sugar, and the more sugar they get, the higher your risk of cavities. 

Alcohol and Gum Disease

Dry mouth from alcohol is just as dangerous to your gums as it is to your teeth. Plaque buildup from dry mouth irritates and inflames the gums, increasing your risk of gum disease. Over time, plaque hardens into a substance called tartar that regular tooth brushing cannot remove. Tartar buildup can lead to the first stage of gum disease, gingivitis. Unless you treat gum disease early on, you may face periodontal disease, tooth loss, and bone loss. 

Alcohol and Stained Teeth

Every year after the holidays, we have patients wanting to whiten their teeth to repair the stains they’ve accumulated from alcoholic drinks. Red wine is notorious for staining teeth due to the high amount of tannin it contains. However, darker beers, dark sodas, and certain colors of fruit juices can also cause tooth discoloration. It’s important to at least rinse your mouth with water after drinking darker beverages and brush as soon as possible to keep stains from setting in.

How much alcohol is a safe amount? 

Limiting your alcohol consumption will help protect your dental health and your general health as well. Heavy drinking not only compromises your teeth, but it also puts you at risk for many other serious conditions. The medical community recommends adults drink no more than one or two alcoholic drinks per day. 

A standard alcoholic drink consists of:

  • 5 fluid ounces of wine
  • 12 fluid ounces of beer
  • 1.5 fluid ounces of distilled spirits

High-risk or heavy drinking includes: 

  • Women or men older than 65 having more than three alcoholic drinks on any given day or more than seven drinks a week.
  • Men and women aged 65 and younger have more than four alcoholic drinks on any given day or more than 14 drinks a week. 

Gum Disease Treatment in Peoria

Occasional alcohol consumption will probably not wreak havoc on your teeth and gums. However, we know during the holidays alcohol can be a more frequent indulgence. We want to make sure our patients understand alcohol’s effects on oral health for any issues that may arise. 

Keeping good oral hygiene practices in place is key to making sure that alcohol does not become a problem for your oral health. If you’re worried about how alcohol has affected your mouth, our discreet and understanding dentists can help. Call Mettler and Griego Family Dentistry today at 623-487-4870 to schedule an appointment. 

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