Alcohol contributes to more than three dozen illnesses and chronic diseases, among them cancer, heart disease, and diabetes . We know that alcohol isn’t the best beverage for our bodies—but what about for our teeth?
Drinks that contain alcohol have been associated with certain oral health problems, and the more frequently you drink or the more alcohol you consume, your risk for these problems increases. Is alcohol bad for your dental health? We’ll let you decide after reading about its effects!
Alcohol Can Damage Tooth Enamel
Most types of alcohol are very acidic, and as such, are corrosive to tooth enamel . What this means is that alcohol can wear away tooth enamel over time, especially if you neglect to brush your teeth before bed after a night of drinking.
Alcohol also dehydrates the body, which leads to less saliva in your oral cavity. Less saliva means less protection for your tooth enamel, which can lead to damage that can cause tooth sensitivity, an increased risk for tooth decay, and oral infections. Between its dehydrating effects and its acidity, alcohol can hurt your tooth enamel!
Drinking Aggravates Your Gum Tissue
People who drink alcohol frequently are at an increased risk to develop periodontal (gum) disease . Because drinkers tend to have worse oral health habits than those who don’t drink, they’re more likely to develop gum disease at some point in their lives.
Drinkers also tend to have more plaque in their oral cavities, which can accumulate around the gums to cause the irritation and infection characteristic of gum disease. In people who have existing gum disease, drinking can make the condition worse!
Increased Risk for Oral Cancer
Frequent or heavy alcohol consumption has been linked to an increased risk of numerous types of cancer, including oral cancer. In fact, alcohol abuse is the second largest risk factor for developing oral cancer . Oral cancer includes cancers of the soft tissues of the mouth and throat, including the lips, cheeks, tongue, and sinuses
If caught early, treatment for oral cancer has a relatively high success rate, but if not caught early, the disease can be life-threatening. Fortunately, your dentist can conduct an oral cancer screening whenever you visit for checkups as part of your exam!
So is alcohol bad for your dental health? Between its effect on tooth enamel, gum tissue, and the fact that it increases your risk for oral cancer, we would say so! If you do choose to drink, always drink in moderation and sip water with your drink to minimize alcohol’s effects on your teeth.
The best thing you can do besides live a healthy lifestyle is visit your dentist regularly to ensure that if there are any problems with your smile, they’re caught early to give you plenty of time and treatment options to fix them!