Alcoholic Drinks and Dental Health

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For most people, the holiday season means chances to spend time with loved ones. It also means indulging in some great food and saying “cheers” to some of the season’s best alcoholic drinks. You might be a lover of champagne, wine, mixed drinks or beer. But you should be aware that alcohol and teeth are not natural allies. Luckily, if you follow a dental hygiene routine, you can banish the signs of your indulgence as you enjoy the holiday season. 

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One study revealed that heavy drinkers have higher levels of harmful bacteria. They also have lower levels of bacteria which help to prevent sickness. If you drink alcohol, it can throw off the balance of good bacteria in your mouth and raise your risk for various diseases.

A study published in 2018 found that consuming one or more alcoholic beverages is harmful. It disrupts a healthy combination of oral microbes. All this can lead to gum infection, cancer, or even cardiovascular disease.

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Here is how alcohol can affect your teeth and why you might choose one drink over the other.

Good Versus Bad Bacteria

You must be knowing that there are more than 700 different species of bacteria and some species of fungi living in your mouth. Many of these microorganisms can play a crucial role in maintaining wellness, including immune response, nutrient digestion and even cancer prevention.

In the study, it was also found that heavy drinkers had higher levels of harmful bacteria like Bacteroidales, Actinomyces, and Neisseria. And they had lower levels of Lactobacillales, good bacteria commonly found in probiotic food that prevent sickness.

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Another research demonstrated that oral bacteria composition could directly influence the development of oral and upper digestive tract cancers. These diseases include cancers of the oral cavity, esophagus, and pancreas. Heavy drinking increases bacterial growth that contributes to periodontal disease, heart disease, and head and neck cancer as well.

Impact of Alcoholic Drinks on Dental Health

Can what you drink that will not affect your teeth? Even though acidic sodas, sugary drinks and staining coffee are common enemies when it comes to your dental health. 

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Do you know that alcohol is another beverage that can seriously impact your smile? If you drink more than the occasional cocktail during the festival season, you are sure to affect your healthy mouth.

1 Gum Disease and Alcoholic Drinks

Mild alcohol consumption will not affect your teeth negatively. But with heavier drinking can affect your gums. In a 2015 article published in the Journal of Periodontology, researchers found an interesting connection between alcohol dependence and decreased periodontal status.

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Another study, published in the journal Microbiome, inferred that alcohol could impact your overall mouth health. Researchers looked at the bacterial composition of drinkers and found that alcohol consumption, especially heavy drinking, could influence your mouth’s microbiome. This could negatively impact gum health and play a role in the development of gingivitis.

2 Dental Decay and Alcoholic Drinks

Not only does alcohol contribute to or speed up gum disease, but it can also lead to tooth decay. Like most periodontal disease, your alcohol-induced dry mouth can increase the risks of tooth cavity development. This happens because your mouth would not have as much saliva. Lack of saliva would lead to dry mouth. The saliva also washes away invading microorganisms and keeps your good and bad bacteria in check.

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Plaque can build up, bacteria can breed, and the resulting acids can erode your enamel and cause decay if your teeth are not bathed in saliva. In addition, if you regularly mix fruit juices or soda with alcohol, you might add to this issue.

These high-acid, high-sugar beverages can increase plaque buildup, leading to enamel erosion. Combined with a dry mouth and the other negative effects of alcohol can cause cavities to build up. Because the bacteria in your mouth feeds on these sugary substances. The addition of sugary mix-ins only adds to the sugar content the bacteria needs. The acidic byproduct of these bacteria wears down your teeth and leaves them vulnerable to decay.

3 Alcoholic Drinks and Stained Teeth

What color wine or liquor do you like to drink? If it is a dark color, you should know that dark beverage can stain your white teeth. Likewise, alcoholic drinks with high tannin content, such as red wine, can also cause teeth stains. Though it is not a painful medical issue, it can impact your self-esteem. You would want to close your lips together every time you are about to smile.

Some of these alcohol-related stains are temporary, while others could create long-term problems. One glass of red wine might not ruin your teeth. But it can leave behind a pink or purple hue, especially in the small ridges or pits in your teeth. In order to avoid this issue, either stay away from red stuff or brush your teeth soon after drinking.

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In fact, long-term alcohol consumption might cause a more permanent problem. Over time these stains will bind on to your teeth. If you brush properly, it is possible to manage this issue. You need to care for your teeth and use mouthwash or floss to clean properly. Else, you may need professional help to whiten your smile or remove the stains.

Remember, what you mix with alcohol can also affect your pearly white smile. Dark soda, dark coloured juice and heavy or colorful syrups can also stain your teeth. Also, note that these add-ins also require immediate dental care to brush or wash the stains away.

4 Other Damage

Tooth damage related to alcohol can be even more dangerous if you chew the ice in your drinks. Chewing ice could break your teeth. Moreover, if you add citrus to your beverage, it could be harmful to your teeth. The American Dental Association mentions that even a squeeze of lemon in your drink could erode tooth enamel. 

Saliva is very important for your mouth as it prevents food from sticking to your teeth and it also washes away food particles. The presence of saliva can help repair early signs of tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral infections. In order to keep your mouth hydrated, drink plenty of water even after your drink

Things To Consider Before You Drink

1 Sugar Content

Hope you know the basics – sugar intake can be a major risk factor in tooth decay and tooth cavity. That is because the bacteria in your mouth survive on sugar. So sipping on sweet drinks offers those harmful bacteria plenty of fuel to thrive. If you choose beverages that are lower in sugar content, you can ensure your holiday merrymaking does not turn into a nightmare. 

Do you know that a glass of dry brut champagne typically has just 0.5 grams of sugar every 5-ounce serving? A glass of doux champagne that is on the sweeter end of the spectrum can have anywhere between 8 and 10 grams of sugar in every serving. This makes drier champagne the better choice with respect to your teeth. Hence you need to closely evaluate the sugar content in each drink you plan to enjoy during the season. 

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Wine has a similar spectrum of sugar content variation. A typical dry white wine weighs in at roughly 3 grams of sugar per 5 ounces serving, whereas a whopping 8 grams of sugar for a sweet red wine, port or sherry. They all belong to the same family. When in doubt, just remember your basics and opt for a drier drink for your healthier teeth.

2 Dehydration

The American Dental Association or ADA warns that one of the common side effects of alcohol can be dehydration which is very damaging for your teeth. Alcohol consumption leads to a drastic decrease in saliva flow. So instead of the alcohol sugar being washed away naturally, bacteria clings to your enamel and increases your risk of tooth decay.

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If you are celebrating the holiday season with a few drinks, be sure to alternate alcohol with a glass of water to replenish this saliva. Thus keeping your mouth cleansed. Instead, you can also chew sugar-free gum between drinks to increase your saliva production further.

3 Staining

Remember, when you opt for heavily colored alcohol, you will definitely end up with stained teeth. Red wine, sangria and similar colored drinks with deep hues can turn your teeth red. These drinks can result in long-lasting discoloration and overall dullness, which can really cramp your style in your holiday pictures. 

Make sure you counteract vibrant drinks by using a teeth whitening toothpaste. These kinds of toothpastes banish surface stains and use hydrogen peroxide to reveal a whiter smile.


Alcohol and teeth may be well-known enemies, especially during a spirit-filled holiday season. But you only need to be a little extra careful and attentive, and then it is OK to enjoy yourself. If you have concerns about alcohol use and your dental health, then think about it seriously. Even though alcohol overuse can lead to dental decay and gum disease, you can reduce the risks and correct existing issues. Discuss with your dentist. You just need to ensure you do not let all of that merrymaking negatively affect your teeth when the holiday season is over.

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