When you drink alcohol, you're usually too busy feeling guilty about your liver to spare a thought for your teeth. What you might not know, however, is that having a casual glass of wine after work could be harming your pearly whites. We don't want to put you off alcohol for good, but we don't want you to suffer from tooth decay and tooth pain, either. With that in mind, here are a few things you should keep in mind next time you imbibe.
Regular drinkers suffer from more plaque and an increased risk of gum disease than non-drinkers.
Regular drinkers suffer from more plaque and an increased risk of gum disease than non-drinkers, according to the American Academy of Periodentology. Having a cotton mouth caused by alcohol could be what's behind the formation of aforementioned plaque, and subsequent inflammation of the gums. Alcohol causes dehydration, slowing the flow of saliva and leaving you with a dry mouth.
Saliva plays a vital role in neutralising plaque, so when saliva production is compromised, it spells bad news for your oral health, the American Dental Association asserts. If not washed away by saliva, bacteria have the chance to cling on for longer, increasing your risk of tooth decay.
To combat the effects of a dry mouth, alternate your alcoholic drink with a glass of water. This will dilute the acid that forms in your mouth, buffering the damage.
Cocktails and sweet liqueurs are tasty, but all the sugar they contain is detrimental to your oral health. Sugar is a superfood for the bacteria that live in our mouths, which release acid that eats away at tooth enamel. We tend to sip on sweet drinks over a few hours, and with each mouthful we're feeding those acid-producing bacteria and leaving the window for damage open. It doesn't help matters that a lot of these sweet alcoholic drinks are highly acidic, compounding the negative effects.
To minimise damage, choose dry wines, as they contain less sugar than sweet wines, such as sherry and port. Try to avoid sugary and acidic mixers, such as soft drinks and fruit juices. The best mixer is water, or a non-carbonated option like coconut water.
In terms of aftercare, don't brush your teeth immediately after drinking, as this could further damage your enamel. Do brush your teeth before going to bed, though: many people forget to brush after drinking, which leaves teeth vulnerable to acid attacks and plaque build-up.
If you have been indulging in lots of summery cocktails over the holiday season and are concerned about your teeth, make an appointment and pop in to see us.