The Effects of Alcohol on your Oral Health
Friday nights often result in Friday night drinks. However, alcohol can have an impact on your oral health.
Have you ever woken up from a big night of drinking with a dry mouth? Alcohol can lead to dry mouth which dramatically increases the risk of tooth decay, gum disease and erosion. There are two reasons why alcohol can cause dry mouth:
1. Alcohol has a diuretic effect on your body therefore you are more susceptible to dehydration
2. Alcohol irritates the mucous of the mouth which can reduce your salivary flow.
Excessive consumption of alcohol significantly raises the risk of oral cancer. The risk of oral cancer is six times higher in those who drink alcohol compared to non-drinkers.
Binge drinking may result in vomiting. If vomiting does occur, it is important to rinse the mouth with water (to try and reduce the acidity), and can rub toothpaste onto your teeth using your finger. Do not use a toothbrush until at least 30 minutes after vomiting.
Depending on the type of alcohol you drink can impact your teeth's colour. Red wine contains a chemical compound that can easily stain your teeth. If you want to avoid the effects of staining, we recommend consuming these beverages with a straw to avoid your teeth coming into direct contact.
Bacteria in your mouth thrive on sugar, and as we know, alcohol is filled with sugar. One glass of red wine as approximately 8 grams of sugar. Therefore it can pose a great risk of tooth decay.
Everything in life needs moderation. You don't need to miss out on your Friday night drinks, but there are some ways that can help reduce the effects of alcohol on your oral health:
- Choose drinks that have a lower sugar content e.g. dry brut champagne only has 0.5 grams of sugar per glass - Sip your beverages through a straw or choose light-coloured drinks to avoid staining - Continue to drink water throughout the night to avoid dehydration (and that morning hangover) and to reduce the acidity in your mouth
- If you do vomit, do not use a toothbrush straight away. Drink some water, and place some toothpaste on your teeth to freshen up using your finger - Moderation, moderation, moderation! Alcohol can increase your risk of oral cancer so minimise your alcohol consumption each week, and keep everything in moderation.