Drinking alcohol, much like other habits such as smoking and recreational drug use, has an impact on your body. This includes your smile! Alcohol is a very corrosive substance that can damage your smile if you repeatedly expose your teeth and gums to this popular beverage. How exactly does drinking alcohol impact your smile, and what can you do to reduce the damage?
Alcohol and Your Gums
Your gums play an important role in keeping your teeth healthy, but drinking alcohol can aggravate your gums. Alcohol is harsh on the gums, irritating the tissues and leading to an instable structure for your tooth. The irritation of the gums over time can cause swelling, bleeding, and eventually, gingivitis, the beginning stages of gum disease. Alcohol also dehydrates you, ensuring that the saliva in your mouth doesn’t adequately protect your teeth. Saliva encourages good bacteria and keeps our teeth healthy—without it, problems arise.
Alcohol and Your Teeth
When your gums aren’t healthy, they can’t properly support your teeth, therefore leading to loose teeth, bleeding gums, and eventually, tooth loss.Alcohol is extremely acidic, much like soda and sugar. In fact, most alcohol is sugar! The situation for your mouth gets worse when you begin to mix the two—soda and alcohol tend to be popular combinations for many people. The lack of saliva in your mouth due to drinking alcohol makes your mouth an even more acidic environment.
And let’s not forget about plaque, which begins to build up on the teeth after alcohol consumption. This happens even more often when you don’t brush your teeth after drinking, or if you vomit after drinking—leading to even more acids in the mouth. The acidic environment combined with the lack of saliva, corrosive substance, and plaque buildup will eventually wreak havoc on your smile.
How to Prevent Damage
Alcohol is largely enjoyed throughout the world. You don’t have to stop drinking to protect your smile. Of course binge drinking isn’t healthy, and even having a drink or two a day is enough to impact your smile. Occasional drinking or drinking a few times a week likely won’t harm your smile, provided you do the following things to protect it:
Drink water. Drinking water between drinks or while you’re drinking does more than just rinse your mouth of corrosive alcohol and sugar—it can help restore hydration and saliva production.
Brush and floss. While you shouldn’t brush immediately after drinking to prevent further damage to your enamel, remember to gently brush your teeth and floss after an evening of drinking.
Limit mixed drinks. Remember, that soda and alcohol combination isn’t doing your teeth any favors.
You don’t have to give up alcohol to protect your smile, but like anything else, too much alcohol can be very damaging to your smile. Over time, excessive alcohol consumption can effectively ruin your smile, leading to gum disease and tooth decay. Be mindful about your drinking habits and talk with your dentist about what you can do to help minimize damage to your teeth and gums!