Most people are well aware of the general health risks that can be posed by excessive alcohol, but a recent report has revealed that only 16% of people have considered the effects of alcohol on their oral health.
It has been reported that a nightly glass of wine, for instance, can dry out your mouth, suck the calcium from your teeth and leave you with bad breath, not to mention an increased risk of tooth decay. Alcohol, it is claimed is also increasingly associated with mouth cancer.
At Carisbrook Dental we do see some problems associated with excessive consumption of alcohol, but we think that maybe the report is somewhat alarmist. However, as highly experienced dentists here is our Dentists’ Guide to which are the best drinks to have and which are the worst.
Without doubt amongst the worst alcoholic drinks, from an oral health point of view, are dry sparkling wines because the bubbles in these drinks are caused by carbon dioxide, which is highly acidic and will soften the teeth’s enamel coating. It is when the enamel coating is worn away that you will experience sensitivity, pain and eventually tooth decay. Sparkling fruit drinks and the increasingly popular ‘alcopops’ with their high sugar content are doubly hazardous, so our advice is that it is better to choose a flat drink to a fizzy one.
Having said that, even ordinary wine can be detrimental to your teeth and gums. As a rule white wine is more acidic than red; even so, red wine can still harm and stain your teeth, especially if you tend to swill the drink around your mouth. Heavy Port Wine, on the other hand, is even worse.
Surprisingly beer isn’t too bad for teeth because it contains quite a lot of calcium, which actually promotes hardening of the teeth.
Alcohol encourages plaque
Alcohol dehydrates the body, including the mouth, and when it is dry it allows micro-organisms to flourish leading to plaque build-up and inevitably bad breath. In addition plaque also leads to a higher risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
A further risk of excessive drinking, especially strong spirits, is mouth cancer because alcohol can have a direct effect on the cells lining the inside of the mouth, including gums and cheeks. Binge drinking is without doubt a serious risk factor and when combined with smoking it increases the risk up to 30 times.
The best drinks at a glance: beer, vodka, non-sparkling vodka cocktails and creamy drinks. Keep the drinks short, mix them with water, drink water with them or use a straw to avoid contact with the teeth.
The worst drinks at a glance: sparkling wines, alcopops, pre-mixed sugary cocktails, spirits with fruity, sugary or fizzy mixers, all carbonated drinks (including fizzy water).
If you are concerned that your teeth may have suffered from the effects of your drinking why not contact us to arrange a dental examination? You could also use this website to check out the advice and treatment we offer for tooth decay, gum disease or mouth cancer. If you are worried about staining we can also advise you on the latest treatment and all the options we can offer you on teeth whitening.
Reports like the one we have described can be a cause for alarm, but in our experience most people are quite sensible about their health and wellbeing. Our advice is to drink responsibly, drink sensibly and ensure that you arrange regular check-ups with your dentist or dental hygienist.