Alcohol, Teeth, and You

May 31, 2018

whiskey in glasses on wooden tableFor those over twenty-one, Greeley summers and alcohol often go hand-in-hand. Whether that means you and your friends hanging out on the deck of one Greeley’s award-winning breweries, or enjoying yourself at the Greeley Stampede, the fair weather and sun offer plenty of excuses to enjoy a cold one. And while one or two drinks on occasion is fine, overindulging can not only be hard on your body, it can be hard on your smile, as well.

The negative effects of alcohol are well known. According to the National Institute on Alcohol and Alcoholism, an estimated 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes annually. But not many know what alcohol can do to your teeth. Here are three reasons your mouth will thank you this summer by drinking a few less cocktails.

Alcohol Weakens Enamel

Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in our body. Covering the outer layer of our teeth, enamel is a mineralized substance made mostly of hydroxyapatite that protects our teeth from decay. Though incredibly durable, enamel has one major weakness: acidity. Probably you’ve heard before that sugar causes cavities, but that isn’t the whole story. An overabundance of sugar in the mouth will actually feed a specific bacteria which will then multiply and produce an acidic byproduct that weakens enamel and eats away at teeth.

Most alcohol is incredibly acidic, aggravating conditions like acid reflux and thinning enamel. Wine is highly acidic. Some wines, especially white wines, are actually as acidic as lemon juice. And although whiskey with a little water in it (the best way to drink it) isn’t bad, many cocktails are loaded with sugary syrups and tart citrus, aka citric acid!  Most beers represent a safer option. They’re mildly acidic, about ten times more acidic than coffee, but only about 100th as acidic as wine. The exception: sour beers. These trendy beers are tart partly because they’re very acidic. Some are as acidic as white wine.

One piece of advice can help counter this and other negative effects of alcohol. Drink water between alcoholic beverages. This helps you stay hydrated during hot summer days, and it neutralizes the acid in your mouth.

Alcohol Stains Teeth

Once your enamel has been worn down, it not only leaves your teeth vulnerable to cavities and decay, it can also make it easier for your teeth to become stained. Staining occurs when an abundance of staining agents enter the mouth, latching onto the natural ridges of your teeth. Worse, some of your favorite alcoholic beverages are also some of the biggest staining culprits. Drinks such as wine, sangria, beer, and dark rum can become lodged in your teeth, making them appear yellow.

Professional teeth whitening is always an option if you’re teeth have become stained, but one of the best ways to keep your smile bright is limiting the number of drinks you consume a week.

Alcohol Promotes Gum Disease

Drinking an excessive amount, especially at night, can promote poor oral hygiene. Skipping your normal brushing and flossing routine even twice a week can compound the amount of plaque that builds up around your teeth and in your gums, increasing your chances of developing gum disease.

While the Greeley Stampede offers one off the most entertaining Fourth of July celebrations in Weld County, it’s also easy to go overboard. To keep your smile and body happy and healthy this summer, try cutting back.

If you suspect you have gum disease or other oral problems in Greeley, we can help. Please call (970) 353-4329 today for an appointment at Greeley Dental Health.

Posted In: Dental Hygiene