How Does Alcohol Affect Your Teeth?

Why Alcohol Is Not Good for Great-Looking Teeth

Drinking alcohol is very popular around the holidays, but many people frequently drink alcoholic beverages. You may be wondering: Is alcohol bad for your teeth? Of course, during the holiday season, most people are not thinking about alcohol damage. The truth is that alcohol affects teeth in a negative way.


The Sugar in Alcohol

Different alcoholic drinks have different amounts of sugar. While drinks such as gin, whisky, and rum do not have any, other ones have a lot of sugar in them. Most of this is added sugar, such as a Pina colada, which has as much as 28 grams of sugar added to it. 

Sugar is bad for teeth because it enables the harmful bacteria in your mouth to increase. When they do, they produce an acid that destroys the enamel on your teeth. If they remain uncontrolled, the acid will continue to damage your teeth’s enamel, and cavities and gum problems will develop. 


Alcohol Is Acidic

Alcoholic drinks are acidic. When you combine the effects of the acid in the alcohol with the acids produced by the bacteria, it leads to even faster deterioration of the protective layer on your teeth. Another important thing to know is that the enamel on your teeth will not grow back – once it is gone, so are your teeth because they will rapidly decay afterwards. 

If you enjoy a nice white smile, you are apt to lose it when drinking red wine and dark colored alcoholic beverages. This is especially true when you mix your alcohol with dark sodas. The coloring agents will stain your teeth. 


Daily Recommended Amounts of Sugar

When it comes to knowing how much added sugar is considered healthy, there are recommended guidelines in place. The Mayo Clinic recommends that men limit their intake of sugar to nine teaspoons per day (144 calories), and women should not get more than six teaspoons per day (96 calories).  To put this in perspective, most cans of soda have about 10 teaspoons of sugar in each, which is about 160 calories. 


Reduced Saliva Levels

Another way that alcohol and dental problems go together is because the alcohol aids dehydration. This leads to a reduced amount of saliva in your mouth. Healthy amounts of saliva are needed to control the bacterium that produces the acid. Having a healthy amount of saliva keeps the bacteria in check, and it also helps to strengthen and protect the enamel.

If you drink a lot of alcohol, binge drinking, there is an added risk to the health of your teeth if you vomit. The stronger acid in the vomit, combined with the acid in the alcohol and the increased amounts of bacteria from the sugar all work together to further destroy the enamel on your teeth. Adding soda to your alcoholic drinks only provides even more sugar and acid. 

The damage is even worse if you fall asleep and do not clean your teeth after getting drunk. These harmful agents continue to damage your teeth while sleeping because the enamel on your teeth naturally softens after your eat. This means you should wait at least 20 minutes after eating or drinking to brush your teeth, otherwise you are helping to erode the enamel. 


Alcohol and Gum Disease

One more bad side effect of alcohol and teeth is in connection with alcohol and gum disease. The alcohol causes increased bacteria which also weakens the gums. This can lead to gingivitis, which, if not dealt with by proper care of the teeth and gums, leads to periodontitis. After periodontitis gets worse, it weakens the foundation of your teeth, and they can literally fall out in extreme cases. 

There is also a problem with alcohol and dental implants. A successful dental implant depends on the health of the gums and teeth. People who do not take good care of their teeth, or who are heavy smokers, are more apt to have the procedure fail.


Increases Risk of Oral Cancer

Besides the alcohol effect on teeth, there is another consideration. It not only damages your teeth, but it can also cause damage to the lining of your mouth, which can lead to oral cancer. The increased acid can lead to corrosion of your gums, your cheeks, and your skin, causing cancer of the mouth and throat. 

When you combine this with the other harmful effects of smoking, you greatly increase your risk of developing cancer. The Oral Cancer Foundation reveals that once the lining of your cheeks are weakened, the various carcinogens inhaled from smoking or chewing, can then spread throughout other parts of your body. Perhaps even worse is that the alcohol helps to reduce your body’s ability to fight off cancer because it reduces the essential minerals and vitamins your body needs for it. 


Lack of Care for Teeth

Further alcohol damage is caused when those who use a lot of alcohol are also those who do not take good care of their teeth. The lack of care for the teeth guarantees that the damage will only continue. A short term lack of care is not apt to do serious damage, but over a long period you can be sure that it will. Because there is a connection between alcohol and periodontal disease, you need to know that there is also a strong connection between inflammation of the gums and heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. 

If you have experienced alcohol damage to your teeth and live in the Carrollton,  Grapevine,  Cedar Hill, Dallas TX area, you can receive expert dental care from Dr. Kumar T. Vadivel, DDS, FDS RCS, MS, a Board Certified Periodontist. He is experienced in treating people with dental problems of all kinds and can help restore your smile. Contact his office today at (214) 731-0123 for more information or to set up a consultation.