Drinking and St. Patrick’s Day are close friends. Indulging in green beer one day of the year isn’t going to ruin your teeth. However, a regular habit of alcohol consumption could dismantle your oral health. While restorative dentistry can repair dental problems, it’s important to consider how drinking can contribute to the health of teeth and gums.
The Effects of Alcohol on Oral Health
While alcohol is a vice for many people, and they are perfectly aware of the consequences of a lot of drinking, there may be some results of drinking that are overlooked – namely, what alcohol can do to your teeth and gums.
Here are just five ways alcohol can damage your oral health – heavy drinkers are particularly at risk, not just on March 17, but every night they imbibe:
Alcohol is packed full of sugars and acids. Combined with the natural bacteria in the mouth, the result is an acid that attacks tooth enamel. As a result, the enamel begins to break down and tooth decay takes hold. Constant exposure to these sugars and starches is detrimental to teeth. Left unattended, a large cavity can develop into a serious infection which may create a need for root canal therapy.
Saliva is essential to good oral health because it bathes away bacteria, plaque, and food particles from teeth and gums, minimizing the likelihood of tooth decay. Unfortunately, alcohol consumption can dry out the mouth. This decrease in saliva not only makes a person more susceptible to cavities, but dry mouth can also accelerate the damage that the sugars in alcohol can do.
It’s not just teeth that are at risk from excessive alcohol consumption. The gums can be irritated, as well as the tongue and other oral tissues. This problem can increase the risk of developing periodontal disease. Any untreated gum disease can eventually cause teeth to loosen, which could lead to missing teeth or emergency tooth extractions.
Contributes to poor dental habits.
People who drink heavily can be forgetful. Depending on their level of drinking they may neglect important responsibilities – such as taking care of their teeth. Brushing and flossing may seem inconsequential in the grand scheme of things, but this daily act is critical to keeping the mouth healthy.
Increases cancer risk.
Heavy drinkers are particularly at a greater risk of developing cancer, particularly mouth cancer, throat cancer, and esophagus cancer. Regular dental check-ups include a screening for oral cancer. Avoiding these appointments, however, means missing out on major health benefits.
How Alcohol Damages the Appearance of Teeth
Besides the serious oral health problems that can result from excessive alcohol consumption, the types of drinks you favor can make a dent in the look of your teeth. If you’re a dedicated tooth brusher and flosser, worries about alcohol affecting your oral health are minimized. However, you will want to be especially diligent in your teeth cleaning routine if you drink dark beers, red wine, alcohol mixed with citrus drinks, and sugary alcoholic beverages.
The acids in alcohol eat away at tooth enamel, creating plenty of room for stains of any kind to settle in, damaging not only the health of your teeth, but their appearance as well. Regular brushing and flossing are important for everyone. Keeping your teeth healthy also includes visits to your New York City dentist every six months for a dental exam and check-up. Professional teeth whitening can blast away serious stains, and restorative dentistry can help repair severely damaged teeth.
Concerned about your oral health? Suspect that you have an oral health problem caused by alcohol? There is no judgment at the Manhattan dental office of Dr. Michael J. Wei, just a desire to help you have a healthy mouth and beautiful teeth. Contact us to schedule a visit at our Midtown office.