Although widely enjoyed around the world, alcohol is still considered to be toxic to the body,
especially in large amounts. From what we know about alcohol and its health risks, evidence is
conclusive that this beverage absolutely plays a role in your oral health.
Whether you enjoy a drink a day, a few times a week, or rarely, here’s what you need to know
in regards to alcohol consumption and your dental health.
Increases Damage to Tooth Enamel
Alcohol is very acidic with many drinks containing a pH of around 3-4. With alcohol being so
corrosive, enjoying this beverage can cause your tooth enamel to erode and create weak spots
that are susceptible to tooth decay, discoloration, or tooth sensitivity.
When areas of your tooth enamel are eroded away, your teeth aren’t protected and are more
at risk to experience problems. To keep alcohol from ruining your tooth enamel, be sure to sip
water with your drink and always wait 30 minutes after consuming alcohol to brush your teeth.
More Oral Plaque
Since many forms of alcohol contain sugar, these drinks put you at risk to experience more
plaque on your pearly whites. Plaque is an accumulation of bacteria that feels fuzzy on your
teeth. If left unchecked, this material can harden into tartar, which is impossible to remove at
When drinking alcohol, it’s easy for plaque to build up in your mouth, making tooth decay and
gum disease more likely. In order to keep your mouth plaque-free, it’s imperative to brush
twice a day and visit your dentist for regular cleanings.
Higher Risk of Oral Cancer
Abusing alcohol is the second largest risk factor for getting oral cancer. Oral cancers include
those of the mouth, tongue, throat, lips, and cheeks. Alcohol increases your risk for oral cancer;
in fact, alcohol is a risk factor for many cancers.
The good news is that many oral cancers have a high survival rate of 84% if caught early. Your
dentist can perform an oral cancer screening during your appointment and talk with you about
your risk for oral cancer.
Alcohol Causes Dry Mouth
Since alcohol actually dehydrates your body, it causes dry mouth. Dry mouth has more of an
impact on your oral health than you think. Without proper saliva production, your tooth
enamel is more at risk to be damaged.
Saliva also helps to balance bacteria, so without enough of it, the mouth turns acidic and
bacteria can attack the tooth enamel. This not only increases your risk for tooth decay but can
also cause bad breath.
Alcohol’s dehydrating effect on the mouth can also make oral tissues more susceptible to toxins
and carcinogens, such as those found in cigarette smoke. If you do choose to drink, staying
hydrated with water is important!
No matter how much you drink, it’s important to know how alcohol affects your oral cavity to
understand your risk of health problems such as oral cancer, tooth decay, and dry mouth. Be
sure to follow up with your dentist to ensure your smile is healthy if you enjoy alcohol, even in