Many people are fastidious about their oral health, but don’t think twice about how alcoholic beverages might be affecting their teeth. Little do they know some of the biggest enemies of teeth and gums are sugar and acid. Combined with the sugars found in liquors, the ingredients found in mixers like juices and sodas can wreak havoc on your smile and potentially lead to tooth decay down the road.
In addition to the negative effects of the sugar and acids it contains, alcohol dehydrates your mouth, making it prone to bacteria growth. Your saliva contains many anti-bacterial agents that combat acid, and when these agents are stripped away, the acids and sugars from alcohol leave your mouth vulnerable to decay and erosion.
If you are looking to limit your visits to the dentist without quitting alcohol altogether, here are four yummy cocktails that won’t dull your pearly whites:
• 6 ounces lemongrass tea
• 4 ounces club soda
• 1 ounce white rum
• 1/2 lime, squeezed
• 6 mint leaves
• 1 stalk fresh lemongrass
Combine all ingredients, shake in a mixer, and pour over ice.
The original recipe for a mojito contains two tablespoons of sugar or more, but by substituting lemongrass tea and some mint leaves to garnish, this cocktail becomes a lot more mouth-friendly. Eschewing the sugar of a regular mojito preserves your teeth, while the mint helps fight off bacteria in your mouth.
• 1.5 ounces white rum
• 0.5 ounces simple syrum
• 0.25 ounces fresh lime juice
• 1 drop of bitters
• 2 muddled strawberries
• 3 ounces sparkling water
Muddle strawberries in a mixing glass, then add remaining ingredients and lightly shake. Top with sparkling water and stir gently.
A fun fact about the ingredients of this cocktail: Strawberries are often recommended as a homeopathic teeth-whitening ingredient. Muddling the strawberries will fully release the malic acid contained therein, which is what gives the fruit such strong whitening properties.
• 1.25 ounces vodka
• 0.25 ounces fresh lemon juice
• 0.75 ounces ginger liqueur
• 2 ounces sparkling water
Combine all ingredients and pour over crushed ice. Top with sparkling water and stir.
Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties that work to soothe your mouth tissues and has been widely regarded in traditional medicine as a natural remedy for gum disease. The sparkling water is a perfect mixer because it does not contain sugars that could bind to teeth and cause plaque or yellowing.
• 1.5 ounces gin
• 0.75 ounces sweet vermouth
• 0.25 ounces honey
• 0.5 ounces Campari
• 1 dropper of orange bitters
• 2 ounces sparkling water
Combine all ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker, then strain over a tall glass and top with sparkling water.
Gin features one of the lowest sugar contents of any alcohol, which makes it extremely mouth-friendly. Again, using sparkling water as a mixer instead of soda or juice protects your teeth from the harmful effects of sugars and acids.
While the above recipes may be safer alternatives for your teeth, sugar is not the only enemy. Alcohol in any form causes irritation to the gum tissue. In fact, those who abuse alcohol are more likely to develop periodontal gum disease, along with a host of other health detriments. Make sure that you brush thoroughly after imbibing any cocktails, and follow with a mouthwash rinse. Doing this will keep the need for a smile makeover at bay.