Most people know that alcohol can have negative effects on the body, but many don’t realize how it can also affect oral health. In this blog post, we will discuss how alcohol can cause cavities, gum disease, and other dental problems. We will also provide tips for reducing the risks of these problems. So if you’re a fan of happy hours or like to indulge in a glass of wine with dinner, read on! You’ll learn what you need to do to protect your teeth and gums.
Alcohol and Your Oral Health
Like other things that you eat or drink, alcohol does have an effect on your oral health. Generally speaking, however, the effect that alcohol has on your oral health is due to the amount of alcohol that you consume, as well as how regularly you consume alcoholic beverages. This is where it is important to know the difference between moderate and excessive alcohol consumption.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines moderate alcohol consumption as one drink per day for women and up to two drinks a day for men, and heavy drinking as more than eight drinks per week for women and more than fifteen drinks per week for men. In most cases, the risk of oral health complications is greatest for those who consume excessive amounts of alcohol. However, these risks still exist for moderate drinkers as well. Here are some of the ways that alcohol can affect your oral health:
Increases the Risk of Tooth Decay
One of the most well-known effects of alcohol on oral health is that it increases the risk of tooth decay and cavities. This is because alcohol breaks down into sugar, which is then consumed by oral bacteria. Oral bacteria convert these sugars into acidic waste that erodes the enamel. The more erosion that takes place, the weaker the enamel becomes until eventually a cavity forms.
Increases Risk of Gum Disease
Not only does alcohol break down into sugars that make tooth decay more likely, but it can also cause more plaque to form. Plaque is a sticky film that builds up on teeth and contains oral bacteria. If not removed, plaque can harden into tartar over time, which leads to the development of gum disease (also known as periodontal disease). Not only that, but a recent study found that people who drink more alcohol have higher levels of “bad” bacteria and lower levels of “good” bacteria. This can also increase the risk for gum disease.
Another effect of alcohol on oral health is that it can cause dry mouth. This is because the salivary glands in your mouth produce less saliva when you drink, which means there’s less to wash away bacteria from food particles and other debris in the mouth. Dry mouths are more prone to tooth decay and gum disease than those with normal levels of saliva. Dry mouth can also lead to bad breath.
How to Reduce Risks from Alcohol Consumption
Now that you know some of the ways that alcohol consumption can affect your oral health, you’re probably wondering how to reduce the risks. One of the best ways to keep your teeth and gums healthy is by brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, as well as flossing at least once per day. Another important way to protect your oral health is by making sure to stay hydrated while drinking alcohol and to minimize sipping on sugary drinks. Finally, regular dental exams and cleanings are recommended.
Dr. Sadati possesses extensive experience in all aspects of advanced restorative dentistry, with an emphasis in cosmetic and implant dentistry. He has attained Accredited Fellow status in the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD), the most rigorous, demanding credentialing process in the world. He is the only AACD Accredited Fellow in South Florida.