Americans love their celebrations, and many live for the moments they can let their hair down, socialize, and connect or relax with friends and loved ones. Alcohol is a main attraction and theme in many of those celebrations as proven by the fact that over 86% of American adults admit to drinking at some point in their lives, while over 70% of Americans drink at least once a year and over 56% drink alcohol at least once a month. Holidays are huge lures for alcohol enjoyment, and as winter melts into spring St. Patrick’s Day promises to provide plenty of Irish luck, comradery, and loads of green Guinness to boot. Unfortunately, your teeth can suffer as a result if you’re not careful. But how can alcohol damage or threaten your oral health?
Stained Enamel and Beyond
Some alcoholic favorites such as red wine, sangria, and dark liquors such as whiskey and rum contain dyes or tannins that stain easily. Natural enamel is strong enough to withstand normal life challenges. But alcohol contains acids and sugars that can break down the tooth surface, cause it to weaken or crack, and eventually seep beneath the surface to stain from the inside-out. Limit dark alcohol consumption when possible, use whitening toothpaste regularly to combat those negative forces, and reduce mouth acids by drinking plenty of water to rinse away the tannins.
Plaque and Cavities
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day per men is considered moderate alcohol use. Of course, that limit is seriously challenged and often ignored completely on St. Patrick’s Day when almost 820% more Guinness is consumed globally. Those estimated 13 million pints during that one day can do a real number on consumers teeth. Heavy or binge drinking leads to extra mouth acids and sugars which can quickly cause gum disease, mouth sores, and extra decay-causing bacteria. Unattended, those culprits leave behind sticky plaque (the bacteria’s waste product) as they proceed to burrow and eat through your teeth. The result can be a nasty oral health disaster full of cavities and decay.
Alcohol abuse is defined as consuming more than 21 drinks per week, and while that may seem like an insane amount it can easily occur during holidays or celebratory times. While alcohol is a liquid, excessive usage actually causes dehydration within the body. Smoking does the same thing. Whether combined or used alone, excessive alcohol intake can encourage disease-causing bacteria to invade the mouth. Unhindered by saliva and enzymes to wash those pathogens away, they can enter the bloodstream through the soft tissue in the mouth, damage cell walls, and result in oral cancer. Left untreated, cardiovascular disease can occur as well. Fortunately, a call to your Red Bank New Jersey Dentist can get you set up for a thorough check-up, cleaning, and any necessary treatment to stop existing damage in its tracks and even reverse it so you can celebrate life via better oral health.