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Alcohol and Oral Health: Why Drinking is Bad for Your Mouth

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alcohol and oral health

Many people will have a glass of wine to celebrate a special occasion, a few beers with friends over the weekend, or an occasional whiskey or cocktail. Most people know that alcohol can potentially lead to health problems. There is also increasing awareness in the general public that drinking should be done in moderation (here’s what drinking in moderation means). But what many people don’t know is that alcohol can have a significant impact on oral health. Please continue reading to learn more about how alcohol affects oral health.

What is the link between alcohol and oral health?

Here are some known links between alcohol and oral health:

  • Studies have shown that drinking alcohol can lead to fewer healthy bacteria and more harmful bacteria in the mouth, which can lead to tooth decay.
  • Many alcoholic beverages such as lagers, ciders, and mixers contain large amounts of sugar that can also cause tooth decay.
  • Some alcoholic drinks are very acidic and can damage tooth enamel.
  • People who drink are at an increased risk of developing gum disease or experiencing worsening symptoms if there is pre-existing periodontal disease.
  • Alcohol use has been linked to oral cancer (mouth and throat cancer).
  • Drinks with a high alcohol content, such as whiskey and vodka, can lead to dry mouth.
  • Drinks like red wine can leave stains on the teeth.

How can I drink alcohol without damaging my teeth?

Having an occasional drink is okay. However, if you are drinking regularly or heavily, you’re putting not only your oral health but also your overall health at risk. Here are some tips on reducing the impact of alcohol on your oral health.

When you are drinking, alternate between alcoholic beverages and water. Water helps to rebalance pH levels in the mouth and washes away some of the sugar in alcoholic drinks.

Drink alcohol at mealtimes. Food can reduce the effects of the acids present in alcohol on your teeth.

Brush your teeth before you go out drinking. Plaque and tartar on your teeth attract foods and drinks like red wine that can leave stains on the tooth enamel (read some teeth whitening myths if you have stained teeth and are thinking of doing something about it).

Brush your teeth twice a day and floss daily to maintain optimal dental health.

Visit your dentist regularly to make sure your mouth remains healthy. If you’ve fallen behind on regular dental check-ups, call Express Dentist today. We have a trusted network of providers nationwide and will be happy to connect you to a dentist in your area. In the meantime, remember that alcohol and oral health are closely related, so stick to drinking in moderation.

About the author

Dr Greg Grillo
Dr. Greg Grillo

Dr. Greg Grillo DDS studied at the University of Washington where he received a bachelors degree with Honors and later attended dental school on the same campus. Following school Dr. Greg served in the United States Navy as a dental officer. During this time he received advanced training in specialty areas of dentistry while also treating families of members of the military.

As well as sharing valuable information on dentistry and oral health, Dr. Greg remains a practicing dentist to this day. He works with families in the Okanogan Valley where he lives with his wife and three children.

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