Excessive consumption of alcohol has many side effects. One of the more less known impacts of alcohol is its negative effects on a person’s oral health. Indeed, alcohol abuse can take a toll on the oral cavity and its workings, and in many cases, lead to dental ailments and diseases within the body.1
Let’s take a look at some of these potential oral health problems that can be caused by alcohol consumption.
Alcohol Abuse Causes Dehydration and Drying of the Mouth
When you consume too many alcoholic drinks, your mouth tends to produce less saliva. There are two reasons for this. First of all, alcohol has a diuretic effect on the body 1,making you more prone to urination, hence more susceptible to dehydration of the body.1 Dehydration affects the whole body, including the mouth. The more alcohol you consume, the more sustained your dehydration, and consequently, the worse off your dry mouth condition.
Secondly, alcohol irritates the mucous of the mouth.1 This can cause atrophy of your salivary glands and significantly reduce your salivary flow.1 A healthy salivary flow is central to your oral health. Saliva acts as a natural neutraliser for acidic foods and keeps your mouth moist and comfortable. Not only does saliva help to transport minerals to rebuild the enamel surfaces of teeth, it can also neutralise acids in the mouth to prevent breaking down of the tooth enamel.2 Saliva helps to protect against gum disease and tooth decay.2 Conversely, a dry mouth makes an ideal environment for oral bacteria and plaque to flourish.
Alcohol and Teeth Staining
If you enjoy red wine, you should be aware that it contains polyphenol, a chemical compound that easily stains your teeth. In fact, that applies to all deep coloured beverages, including alcoholic ones. Beverages with deep hues like red wine and sangria can result in long-lasting discoloration and overall dullness.3
The chromogens in red wine, attach to tooth enamel that has already been compromised by the acid in the alcohol with nasty staining results.4 Discolouration is even more likely to occur when alcoholic drinks are mixed with dark-coloured sodas.4 In order to maintain a brighter and healthier smile, heavy drinkers are encouraged to consume these types of beverages with a straw to avoid their pearlies coming into direct contact with the staining liquids.
Alcohol and Sugar Content
The billions of bacteria that live in your mouth absolutely thrive on sugar – it is what bacteria lives on and gets its fuel from. A typical red wine weighs in at approximately 8 grams of sugar (or 2 teaspoons) per 150ml glass of mine.3 That’s a whopping amount of sugar to ingest, considering the risk factor it poses to your teeth in the form of tooth decay. Interestingly, dry brut champagne typically contains around 0.5 grams of sugar per 150ml glass.3
If you enjoy a bit of social drinking, taking small sips and increasing your water intake will help to neutralise the acidic and sugary content of the alcoholic beverage.
At Face Value Dental, we offer a range of preventive dental services. If you’re interested to find out more, please contact us on (07 3221 0677 or send us a message so that we can help you with more information.
1. "Why does alcohol cause dry mouth?" Infoxerostomia. June 13, 2016. http://infoxerostomia.com/why-does-alcohol-cause-dry-mouth/.
2. "The Importance of Saliva." Delta Dental. http://oralhealth.deltadental.com/Adult/GeneralInformation/22,DD205.
3. Curtis, J. "Alcohol And Teeth: Three Things To Consider Before You Drink." Colgate Oral Care Center. http://www.colgate.com/en/us/oc/oral-health/life-stages/adult-oral-care/article/alcohol-and-teeth-three-things-to-consider-before-you-drink-1215.
4. Chase, T. "What About the Teeth?" Healthline. http://www.healthline.com/health/dental-and-oral-health/what-does-alcohol-do-to-your-teeth#teeth2.